Brightside Acres
West Virginia Wildgrown®

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Snow

Feb 10, 2010

The way you have a sense of God,
I have a sense of snow.
—Peter Hoeg

Snow sparkles like billions of tiny diamond chips, each containing a rainbow.

At once white and the spectrum that makes white light visible, blended yet distinct. Royal purple. Spring green. Bahama blue and fuschia. Flash of yellow. Flame orange. Flamingo pink. They’re all present, pin-pricks of color in the finest needlepoint blanket. Dizzying and seductive when taken together, they form a shimmering portal through which I might pass and enter another dimension.

“Aim at heaven,” C.S. Lewis wrote, “and you will get earth thrown in.”

The temperature is in the teens, the air still and the snow very dry. The Caribbean-blue sky is of a crystalline clarity that reminds me of reef-diving. I look up and think of swimming. I look down and think of flying. As for locating heaven, I’m certain only that my navigation skills are unequal to that task. Magic carpets, after all, aren’t equipped with steering wheel—let alone GPS. And I didn’t plan this ride.

I’m learning not to fret about the itinerary. I’m learning not to worry about when my trip will come to its end.

My boots squeak against the snow with a sound very much like bare feet rubbed hard, heel first, in hot, soft sand.

“Miracles,” Lewis wrote, “do not, in fact, break the laws of Nature.”

Perhaps this is just another way of saying that what we are tempted to define as miraculous is not supernatural at all, not above or beyond or outside the natural order of things.

Perhaps Lewis meant that miracles are designed-in. And that there is, quite literally, no limit to them.

My logical mind recoils at the idea of a universe without boundaries. My wildest flights of imagination manage only the briefest sorties into the uncharted airspace of anything’s possible.

What kind of laws allow for limitless miracles? None that my disciplined mind and muffled senses can comprehend.

Except, on occasion, when I’m out in the snow.

Such abundant implausibility has a limbering effect. When I stop focusing, my vision expands. I see so much more.

Not just the disco-ball shimmer of dry snow under a frigid, sunny sky, but the glacier blue of an icy crust that has melted and refrozen more than once. Snow mounds born of grassy hillocks, made smooth as sculpted marble breasts.

Snow waves, rolling ahead of me on a ridge top path, unmarked on an early morning by animal track or evergreen needle or fallen twig—a visual rendering of purity.

Tide-line patterns in a snow-drenched valley, formed by wind currents as deliberate as water on sand, and just as random in the placement of ripple or ridge or swirling eddy.

Six-foot drifts crafted into sharp-edged snow cliffs that overhang the now-white dirt road called the Old Pike, which follows the mountain’s contour like a grosgrain ribbon. The snow creates a horizontal lip deep enough, in some places, to shelter beneath as if it were a limestone cave. It certainly looks as hard as rock, yet it crumbles at the slightest touch, defying everything I think I know of physics.

Pre-Colombian, Earth Mother snow—curves flowing into crevasses. Rib cage to waist to rise of hip and flowing thigh. Sensual surprise at the switchback of a logging road.

Snow born of a pastry chef’s dreams: perfect Baked Alaska, gravity-defying meringue.

Snow puddled in the lee of a tree trunk like egg whites whipped in a pottery crock—dense proof of electric beaters lifted not a moment too soon.

Frozen waterfalls created by known springs and unknown seeps. Time lapse photography condensed into one frame—flowing yet stilled. Everywhere I look, a paradox, a miracle.

The natural order of things.