it’s not that i’m not used to it. i’ve spent more of my life with it than without it, & since it’s been out of my life, i haven’t ever given it much thought. it’s as if it may have never existed except as an alternate life, it is that far away in my memory. but even those memories that do linger are not weighted with adverse meaning. when i do think of it, or encounter it, what i remember is the crunch, the sparkle, the light & the many shades of white, how subtle its color tone is, how varied its texture, the making of hard candy: poured onto a linoleum-topped kitchen table to cool, before cracking with a hammer & put into multi-colored tins, a gift.
the way i t changes the landscape & changes the way the landscape is used. you walk up to the tree a man, & leave a rabbit. you burrow into it, a rabbit, & leave a man. when i was younger, the first deep fall, the first significant accumulation was a call to play; forts were made, blocks of it were shaped from a cardboard box (until it became too soggy to hold its rectangle) & stacked one upon the other, igloos without roofs (or perhaps covered with the occasional blanket removed from the linen closet on the sly) or the drifts of it would be deep enough to carve out a cave, the dog following behind you as you perspired in your fleece lined eared cap, scarf, one-piece suit that repelled moisture, gloves linked to the sleeve end with metal clips & springy elastic (snap!), boots laced up or galoshes locked with their clasps pulled tight across your ankles; long underwear. how long you could stay outside, with it, time did stop as there was no sense of reality, it was a winter wonderland (i can think of no better words & feel no shame in using such a trite phrase.)
much work is associated with it too. the heft & weight of it different each time it made its appearance; those big soft flakes or the hard horizontal pellets, the dusting, an amount that was still acceptably navigable, the scrape of shovels, plows, the “hellos” from neighbor to neighbor as each worked their way from the stoop to the street & you’d meet at each others driveway to discuss anything but the work, not wanting to show how hard this part of life really was to each other (each of you panting, puff clouds escaping with every word, every breath.) & standing on the shoveled (or plowed) accumulation, surveying your domain, the shovel, a flag, with its inelegant scraped & dented end planted atilt next to you as you caught your breath, claiming this work for your world, the king of it for that moment.
& the sleep that come with it. those drifts of cotton, the winter morning peeking through the curtains, it’s sharp light bouncing up off it, a kid on a trampoline flipping through the glass, head over teacup, & landing, warmly deceitful, it could not be that cold. you lay in it, stretched out, an angel in the moment of waking, quick to jump up and spell your name before the day starts. snow.