, Gloucester, MA

February 8, 2013

Letter: The mystical magic of snow

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

Snow is meteorological magic.

The sky, fairyland-like, fretted with icy flakes cascading down covering all in a wedding gown white coating.

We see millions of snowflakes falling silently from the heavens above all drifting downward, downward landing in treetops, frozen woods, on hill and dale, coating roads and cars, rooftops and eaves, the City Hall and the fire station and church steeples, the dormant Little League baseball field asleep ‘til spring — and not one swirling whirling crystalline water ice miracle among the numberless millions the same as the next!

All the creatures in their lairs and dens and burrows and brick and wooden homes peer out in wonderment to behold such celestial magic. Deep in woods, unseen by snowplows and shovel wielding hands and ‘snow event’ forecasters, bucks and does prance and play, raccoons and squirrels practice high-wire acrobatic feats, rabbits and hares prove their swiftness amid the cold pure blanch virgin playground.

I cannot think of my childhood pal Bobby Browning without a vision of sleds lined atop the hill behind our house in Maryland waiting for the signal to speed down and over the snow-ice ramps we built in a race toward the frozen creek below. The game was called “Stagecoach,” with teams consisting of a seated sled driver steering with boots on the wood that angled the runners and a standing teammate with gloved hands resting on the shoulders of his partner. On the signal, the one standing thrust the sled forward by planting a boot and pushing off over the crest of the hill.

We had a line a little ways down where “wrecking” could begin — the goal being to reach over and not lose your balance, while knocking your opponent off and flipping their sled and sending both occupants to a snowy ruin. Hitting the ramps amid this mayhem only added to the insanity; my dad would be in the basement repairing bent runners and broken wood.

I can still see it now – Dickens like. Dressed for battle in our colorful heavy winter coats, scarves and gloves, excitedly talking about which was the best sled and the why and what happened on our last stagecoach run.

Now I relive those days every night at 2 a.m. when I walk my rescue dachshund/beagle down the silent snow-covered road. Molly leaves the road to plunge into snowdrifts. Being as short as she is, snowdrifts are everywhere. She dives in and stops abruptly, looking up at me, as if to say, “Isn’t this fun?”

Glorious translucent icicles are hanging from eaves, evergreen bough branches are bending under white weight, my boot prints and her paw prints — the whole white wondrous air sent snowscene an icy glittering transformation.

It is changing the world below and changing the world inside of me — all magical and entirely free.