SNOW! Beautiful, trilling, chilling, soft, and mysterious as a young girl keeping silent behind half-closed eyes SNOW—has come riding in on a wind horse to cover the bones of the yard with a cleansing cloak.
Some enchantment woven by long white fingers—a winter spider plucking on strings behind the scenes, a white widow drawing down her veil (over our eyes, not her own), luring us out of our homes and into the world she creates.
The untroubled purity of the drifting snow, and the silence that holds the promise of great adventure will fill us with a strange longing—this she knows. And she waits, her cold heart pumping with the slow desire to wrap us in her web of white serenity until we can no longer feel our fingers!
It is the end before the beginning.
Yet…it is a laughing world of —so many birds!
The mourning doves come first. One sits on the Poplar branch with cheeks puffed, holding her breath against the wind she believes would steal it to fuel it’s own happy rampage, leaving her frozen and flat.
Then come the starlings, their beaks already yellow, a premonition of spring.
Then a streak of red—a cardinal, followed by the bossy blue of a king of the yard jay.
A pair of black babies! Too young to have all their markings—but grackles, I think
And one white bellied, black capped chickadee that makes me smile just to see it.
Such colour, energy, and springtime life against the cold blur of snow covered sticks.
Little snowflakes play like excited children on their way down to—where do they think they are going? A party?
A Winter Ball? (The unexpected splendour of feathered gowns on soaring birds may have given them that idea.)
In the end it will be more like a family reunion, where they will lay under the coat pile, while the grownups—the aunts, the uncles and cousins eat and drink and talk and laugh and do the setting up and serving up and washing up—quickened by the shared blood coursing through them, filling them with an inhaling sense of belonging and an exhaling need to distinguish themselves in some way.
A bolt of red across the white, a cardinal dives into the dark world of the inner-hedge. (I feel the secret delicious feeling of a child on a snow day—moving forward, holding back—a little shy, but proud because I know I am a part of this world, and it of me, and we are magic today.)
Ha. A brown leaf, eaten by cold and foraging birds into the shape of a butterfly, clings to the very tip of an Oak branch.
How fragile it looks
with the wind whipping through it (a little callously)—would it were a butterfly safe in some cocoon anticipating a spring resurrection—but it will never fly—nor will it let go.
I watch the little snowflakes beckoned down by an insistent mother to their final resting place—how cheerful they are.
I wonder…would I rather be a leaf holding my own against a careless wind? Or a cheerful snowflake in the very awake wake of my final hurrah? Or a bird soaring about in winter’s cage? Or a squirrel, nosing the frozen ground, trying to remember where I hid my acorn stash? Or me watching behind the glass with all the bills to pay?
Today I would choose snow.
To waltz with the wind in breathless unheeding—all of us together: Me, the wind, the others, the torn leaf, the creaking limbs of the old Oak, the feathers—the red the blue the black—all of us led by the deep, lulling, silent symphony of Winter.
Today I would be snow.
by Robin Skelhorn
photo by Brian Skelhorn