Mood: weary but serene…
Weather: the snowy earth sparkles `neath dull gray clouds…
Reading: The Early History of St. John`s College by T. Francis Tilghman
“…black are my steps on silver sod;
thick blows my frosty breath abroad;
and tree and house and hill and lake
are frosted like a wedding-cake…”
It began with cold and quiet Tuesday night. Silent and cloudless. The stars winked and trickled against a curtain of deepest purple. Standing out in my yard, I breathed deep of the Night… and I could smell the frigid Nordic air.
Weather reports gave little indication of what was to come… even the most sensational of local meterologists only alluded to a late afternoon dusting and light evening snowfall for Wednesday. There were no words of school cancellations or inclement traffic conditions, for `twould be little more than the few insubstantial snowfalls we have already endured since the Harvest season of October… when frost rested upon the pumpkins before All Hallow`s Eve.
Upon early Wednesday morn, I awoke… long before the Sunrise, as is my custom of late. With bleary eyes and a mouthful of yawns, I set about my weekday preparations of hot showering and warm drinks… but as I stepped outside to warm-up our vehicle before my departure, I noticed that a steady descent of large snowflakes were falling forth from a sky of hard gray slate.
At once, all thoughts of pragmatic task and responsibilities were cast asunder… I decide upon that very moment that I am taking the day off to enjoy the Winter`s first serious flurry.
I awaken my whole household, first my beloved wife and wee girl… then the elder children, hastening them to dress themselves in their “double-thickness” and join me for an early morning frolic.
Gaelynn is the quicker of the two, as young Israel still seems to have no shortage of difficulty with his coat and gloves.
My daughter runs about the front yard, leaving a trail of silver-sodden steps in the crystalline white perfection of newly fallen snow.
First she scampers up the Crepe Myrtle tree in our front yard, and seems to study the snowflakes from above – at one point mentioning to me that they appear to swirl even as they descend downward.
She runs to the backyard and makes a humble effort of a snowman, where a small bank has already accumulated upon our back porch.
Eventually, a gleeful guttural yell informs me that my son has found his way out-of-doors – but before I can come around to the front of the house, he has already disappeared.
Laughing and calling his name, I find him along the side of the street, feverishly cleaning the snow off of the neighborhood automobiles.
He explains to me that he does not want the cars to be “stuck” to the road. I nod and smile in support, watching him in this task.
Soon it is time. I take Israel indoors for a warm drink and his Breakfast, while playing with Sophia in the Den – Candace drives Gaelynn to her school down the road, returning in a short passage of minutes.
Over the course of the hours from morning into mid-day into afternoon, the Winter`s barrage did not relent. The forecasters had predicted something in the neighborhood of 1 to 2 inches at most… by Noontide, my yard was buried no less than four inches – with no appearance of any caesura.
It was then that I learned about a curious phenomenon that, I am to understand, is rather commonplace in Northern coastal climates… something that had the attributes of what I could only describe as a “frozen fog” but was termed “hard rime” by my neighbors.
From what was explained to me, it is a weather condition that sometimes combines with a snowfall… thus amplifying a rather customary snow into something far more than what is first anticipated.
Whatever it was, it was exceedingly impressive to me… and beyond the realm of what I have previously experienced in the Deep South or High Plains. The consistency of the snow also fascinates me… `tis like a fine powder that easily lends itself into snowballs and sticks firmly in even the clumsiest efforts of a snowman, as my son can attest.
Ah, but the day`s passage was slow and sweetly poetic… with me making many fitful and meandering sojourns out into the thick of it, before returning for a reprieve with Earl Grey.
Curiously, my son`s endurance seemed to surpass mine (or, perhaps, it was his little boy foolishness) as he stayed out in the maelstrom well until I became concerned that he might make himself ill. Nevertheless, as soon as he had grown warm and dry, he was throwing on his coat and rushing once more into breach.
When evening came, we all loaded up and ventured Downtown for a few trifling errands – granting an excuse to enjoy the decoration of glistening snow, verdant wreath, and sparkling lights against the ravishing backdrop of red-bricked Annapolis streets.
The children sang along with the sonorous yuletide odes of Sufjan Stevens, Burl Ives, and Chanticleer emanating from the stereo of our van…
…Gaelynn in her sweet Alto, Israel in his giggling little boy Treble, and Sophia in all her mad bawls and bellows.
Between the joyful tones of song and the sugary-sweet Starbucks hot coca, they worked each other into a frenetic lather – of which my wife and I could only trade smiles from our safe vantage of front seats.
Returning home, there was more outdoor play and warm drinks before Bedtime.
After bedding the children down for the night, tucking them under heavy quilts and soft blankets, my wife and I retired together in a long evening`s embrace.
Before I fell asleep, I took one final glance out my bedroom window… as the gentle snowfall continued.
Arising to a seeming whiteout, our Thursday seemed to pick up where our Wednesday had left off… with laughter and snowy frolic.
Ceasing just after Sunrise, the Winter squall had rendered our home well-buried, by my reckoning, under no less than a half a foot of thick powdery snow.
Though the Sun began to creep outward from a silver-gray veil, the cold remained hard upon land and Sea.
Ah, but there was no haste needed to be made… for all school activities were delayed until late morning and the evening church events were postponed until later in the week. However, I was determined to make my way to the shore.
Gulping down a quick breakfast of egg-in-the-basket and Chai, I strode out into the blinding white morning… cutting a tight swath through my neighborhood backstreets until I had reached the nearby wilderness.
The night before I had discovered numerous tracks upon my grounds bearing the distinctive hooves-mark of Whitetail Deer… and I desired to track them to find where they settled in the rambling woodlands along the Bay.
“…whose woods these are I think I know;
his house is in the village though,
he will not see me stopping here
to watch his woods fill up with snow…”
I have come to discover that Maryland has a number of circumstantial factors that contribute to a rather abundant and well-fed population.
First, the firearm season here does not start until well after peak Rut – in addition, the rigorous weapons laws limit the hunters to short range muzzle-loaders and Bows… which greatly favors the deer, as few men posses much skill in marksmanship in our present Age.
Maryland`s local agriculture is heavy in grains, alfalfa, soybeans, and bumper crops of corn which produces a deep-chested borealis species of Whitetail that I have scarcely seen elsewhere.
More than this, however, I think it how much the land seems to favor the animals… there are thousands of miles of densely forested shorelines, tidal tributaries, and wetland sanctuaries that offer a veritable haven for woodland faunae against the encroachments of man.
Of course, the gradual decline in hunting as necessity or even much of a frivolity has also contributed to an increasing proliferation; but I digress…
I tracked well into the depth of the woods surrounding Black Walnut Creek…
…coming to a realization that, if I desired to hunt wild game in Annapolis, I would not need a gun or a bow, but a club… for the game here is so plentiful that I can only compare it to the image of the ancient Israelites waking up to find their camp covered with Quail.
Tracking no longer than a half of an hour, I saw more than two dozens Whitetail… Bucks, Does, and Fawns of impressive size and passive demeanor. They seemed rather nonplussed to have me come upon them at various points. `Tis most curious to behold!
Eventually I found my way to the beach, where I rested upon a large rock that was warm from the Sun.
As I had been walking through the woods, the clouds had cleared and it was turning into a glorious sunny morning.
I meandered along the shore for a little while before returning home, feeling invigorated by my jaunt through the dense underbrush of the forest and striding through the front doors with a glad weariness of frame.
“…snow-bound in woodland, a mournful word
dropt now and then from the bill of a bird,
reached me on wind-wafts; and thus I heard,
Resting in repose with my little ones, the day continued in slowness… the Sun climbed high into the day, yet the snow held firm as the day was still so cold.
I sat in the Study and read by the light that poured warmly through the windows of the back room.
The children played upstairs in their room and outside in the snow with their little neighborhood friends, Sophia kept mostly to herself in the simple amusement found crawling around the house, Candace puttered around our house and outdoors in errand and task… time ebbed as with the gentle flow of the Tides.
Noontide`s soup and sandwiches marked a delicious interlude in a beautiful Symphony of a day, followed by an evening of quietude that played as gracefully as a Nocturne.
We ate a hearty Supper meal together, interlocking hands in prayer before partaking… and after our soft familial revelries, `twas soon time for a Night`s long repose.
Yet, before I surrendered to the dullness of sleep… I stepped out into the cool clear night for a brisk walk around our humble estate.
My feet crunching through the still-deep snow, I delighted in the glittering sparkles of the ice that rested insolently upon the boughs of the barren trees – its frigid fire inextinguished against a day`s long Sunlight.
I looked out upon the streets, homes twinkling from the blue haze of televisions and the multicolored Christmas lights upon the eaves… chimneys billowing smoke into a star-spangled Night sky.
Home, I return. To my bed, to my beloved… I come.
“Beloved, it is night…
thy heart and mine are full of light;
thy spirit shineth clear and white;
may GOD keep thee in His sight…”
Now it is Friday… late in another evening. Today passed with its usual haste of duties and responsibilities.
Work flowed in discordant harmonies, an important rendezvous afterward proved both productive and pleasant company… a good long conversation and a hearty meal provided dual nourishment.
My beloved worked tonight, and I await her homeward returning… Saturday brings many glad endeavors, and I have much in mind that I must prepare.
The LORD`s Day awaits with all its promise of glorious worship and fellowship – the second Sunday in observance of His Advent.
So now, in this late night stillness, I gaze out my rear window and see how we are visited upon with even more of the fallen snow – yet I doubt there will much in the way of any new accumulation… save for that in the coming days.
For I am to understand that we are to expect, off and on o`er this week, mixtures of both ice and snow.
Even now, the winds raise its voices through the whispering branches… and tells me that verily there is much more to come.
May it be…