It’s snowing out. Even though I know that it’s only a snow shower and won’t last, right now the flakes are falling thick and fast giving the impression that it’s a much more significant snowfall than it really is. It puts me in mind of the heavier snowfalls we got in the northeast, where it would look like this all day.
The best part about that sort of snowfall is the peace and contentment you can get from being inside watching it fall. If it was coming down in the liquid equivalent the feeling would be much more depressing. A heavy rainfall pounds on the roof and the windows, makes everything dark and dank, and generally makes you feel like you’re trying to get away from something by staying indoors. A heavy snowfall on the other hand lightens everything and is almost silent. In fact, one of the best things about snowfall is the light sound it does make. A soft rushing sound that you can really only hear when everything around you is still.
And everything is still in snowfall. The softness of the flakes absorbs all the sound, and even in the middle of the woods what was already quiet becomes even more so. You can feel yourself get completely wrapped up in the silence; but rather than a cold, isolating silence like you might get in a cave or an empty room, the silence of snow completely envelops you and makes you feel surrounded by something soft.
Many of my favorite memories of growing up involve snowfall and winter. I remember sitting for hours in front of a big picture window reading an entire book while watching the snow fall outside. I remember cross-country skiing through lightly falling snow to a cabin in the woods. I remember skating over a frozen lake as the snow wafted across the ice in front of me in little wisps, and the only sound was my skates and the occasional boom of the entire sheet of ice shifting along the shore.
February has been the worst month for me for many years now. It seems like I get into my worst doldrums as soon as February rolls around, and it doesn’t really lift until we begin to see some warmth and sunlight again in March. But I don’t remember this happening when I was growing up. I remember making it through the extended winters in New Hampshire where the snow would often last through until May without this sort of depression coming over me.
I finally realized a few years ago that it’s Ohio that does this to me. In Ohio, it essentially clouds over around Election Day and doesn’t clear until St. Patrick’s. On top of that, we rarely get any sort of significant snowfall here. The last big snowfall I remember here was a few years back and only amounted to about 6-8 inches. Instead we get a cold drizzle that never seems to end. It’s a huge disincentive for me to get on my bike, and riding is one of the few things that can successfully break me out of a depression.
So the snow falls outside and I’m reminded ever so slightly of the closeness of a heavy snowfall, or the blazing blue skies that come with the Canadian high pressure right behind it. I remember the joy of schussing down freshly packed powder through pine and maple forests. I remember splitting logs to keep a wood stove burning through the night as the snow swirls around outside. I remember walking through a foot of snow across a field and falling on my back to gaze up at the stars whose light is reflected off the bed of white all around me, feeling that I belonged to something much bigger than myself.