"The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible." -Vladimir Nobokov

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The First Snowfall

Last night we had the first snowfall of the year here in Iowa. According to my Minnesota friends, getting more than a dusting of snow during the first snowfall is pretty rare. But there you have it. Last night is snowed for several hours, and this morning I woke up to one of my favorite sights, a sparkling, pristine blanket of white against a bright blue sky.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a winter person. My favorite season is unabashedly summer. This year, though, the coming of snow has filled me with unexpected joy. Today, on the cold, slippery walk to my favorite coffee shop, I marveled at the way the sinking sun (it was only 3:30, and it already had that golden tint of late evening) makes the white snow glow with a warm brilliance. But there was one moment that absolutely took my breath away.

The snow around the base of a tree was completely covered in bright yellow leaves. It was as if the tree had been startled by the coming of winter, tossed its branches up in defeat, and dropped all of its leaves at once. There was a sense of abandon, a shock of color, a gift to the landscape. I was struck by both the randomness and the beauty of it all.

It only took a moment to appreciate it. I stopped. I marveled. I took a few pictures. And then I continued my trudge to the coffee shop. (It was cold). But I have a feeling that the image will stay with my for a long time. Not just because I have pictures of it. That helps, of course, but those photos will slip into the backlog of my photo feed just as easily as the pictures I took of last year's snowfall. There's something metaphorical about it, all of that color against the blank snow, and I haven't quite figured out what it is yet. You could say that I'm just looking for meaning where there is none, but you could say that about anything. I believe that there are pockets of wonder everywhere, and they are different for different people. I might find reverence in a startled tree; someone else might find it on a bustling city street.

I suppose I could impose some sort of meaning onto it. Maybe it struck me because it makes me think of the change I so desperately crave. Maybe it signifies rebirth or death, redemption even. Maybe we are too quick to assign meaning to things. Our reaction to beauty, nature, art, tragedy, doesn't need any modifiers. We don't have to tease out the reason behind feeling something. We just have to feel it.

I wrote this with the intention of understanding my reaction to this moment- why I find it funny and sad all at the same time. Why, when I think about it, I get that ache in my chest that happens whenever I see something beautiful. But then again, beauty doesn't need an explanation, and feelings don't need modifiers. The best we can do is cling to those moments, pull them out again when we need to be reminded that there are still some things we can't explain, and to find some strange comfort in the chaos.

1 comment:

  1. Just beautiful: both the event, the photos, and your writing. I may not miss the cold, but that wonderful discovery…there's a thing to desire.