The first snowstorm of the season arrived, on a Sunday, like a sacrament. We were waiting, wondering what happened to it, and then it fell all day, all night, over the tired, empty flowerpots of November, until their frost-wilted remains, no longer a rebuke, were transfigured. We heard the plow scraping in the night as it passed under the second-story bedroom window, and woke to find every twig of each tree made bold with a thick white brushstroke. Monday morning dawned to ten inches of stacked and powdery snow altering shapes and altering perception: a forgotten cushion, an upturned tub, a sledding hill for hardy squirrels, all these were potential to every windblown drift. School, we heard, would be cancelled. Is there such a thing as a child who does not root for the snow?
Zerlina is a California cat. The first time she saw snow falling, she pressed against the window and craned her neck, trying to see up into the sky for whatever was causing this unknown phenomenon. It could have been a flock of big white birds shedding their feathers; I like to think she was hoping for that. We opened a door for our transplanted indoor cat, pretty sure she wouldn’t go far. She took two steps out into the snow, stopped, took the same two steps back – unstepping them – and went and stood on the heat register. She has shown occasional interest since then, and even tested the snow another time or two. Finding it equally cold on each occasion, she has since decided snow is best ignored.
Later in the season I will agree with her, but the first snows show you all over again how beautiful everything is if you stop to look at it. Each of the four seasons does this as it shifts, and it’s luscious to wallow in having these changes right at your door, no driving into mountains or deserts required. They come miraculously, automatically, a gift just for existing. By March I will be hungry for spring, but though I might prefer to adjust the number of months allowed each season – more to autumn, say, or cut February altogether – I do not want to do without them. They restore, inspire, refresh and reanimate as they rotate the world through its possibilities, and I go along for the ride.