November 29th, 2006

snowy trees

I want to tell you a love story.

I've loved snow. For as long as I can remember.

When I was very little we used to go to Slovenia every winter, a place with mountains and lakes and firs bowing under the weight of the white stuff - the place where I learned to ski, and where snow drifts were sometimes higher than my seven-year-old self. I fell in love then, with a sweet and intense purity of childhood devotion, and I've never grown out of it. NEVER. Perhaps it was this snow-love that drove me to Banff in teh Canadian Rockies, ostensibly for skiing although my days on skis at that time could be counted on the fingers of two hands - but there were mountains, and there were firs, and there was snow. I wandered the empty streets of Banff in near whiteout conditions when a blizzard hit, and cried for joy as the big white flakes fell in silent beauty around me.

I'm a snow junkie.

Last night was one of the most magical things that mankind has ever been privileged to see - moonlight on snow, and the veils between worlds were suddenly thin and transparent and I could clearly see that magical other side where unicorns live in the woods. Everything glittered and glowed with that bone-white light on the frosty snow. It was breathtakingly beautiful. And before that, the day before that, when the temperatures barely made 20F - I went out in that icy wonderland and started drinking it all in.

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I walked the icy roads of my neighbourhood, the deserted icy roads of my neighbourhood, and I've seldom felt as vividly alive as when I was wandering down snowy roads under brittle winter sunlight with the frigid air nipping at my cheeks and my feet getting cold in bootees which were perhaps thinner than they ought to have been at that kind of sub-freezing temperatures. But I am a woman in love, and I lifted my eyes to the blue sky and the white branches etched against it, and I laughed for the joy of it.

Yes, I know it can be deadly - everything beautiful is. I know that I personally worry about frozen pipes, about driving in that icy mess, about the potential for broken saplings or rhododendrons under the weight of snow in my garden, about the possibility of power cuts in a house that's exclusively electrically heated and which could become a meat locker if the heaters were to lose the juice. But DAMMIT, it is beautiful. And it has my heart in its cold hand, like a trembling bird, and there is nothing I can do about that.

It is beautiful.

I know it's still a month until Christmas and that it is unlikely that we will have a repeat of this weather at that time, but I will leave you with one of the most potent blessings that popular music lyrics have ever uttered.

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I wrte
May your days be merry and bright...
And may all your Christmasses be white."