Sunday, March 9, 2008

Winter wonderland

It finally stopped snowing a couple of hours ago.

After being holed up in my beige concrete apartment box all day, I suddenly wanted to be out in the still whiteness of the night.

It’s so beautiful. It takes my breath away. Stepping out in front of our building, I stand for a moment and taste the cool fresh air.

I let myself fall backwards into a snow bank and savour the soft wet fresh smell as the snow flakes rise up in little clouds about my head and then flutter back down. The storm has scrubbed the sky clean and the scattered clouds hang like tattered lace curtains high above my head. Before walking on, I smile at my sleeping snow angel shadow.

The streets are empty and quiet. No one is out. I feel deliciously alone in this fairyland, like I’ve walked through a door in a dream. I hope that I don’t see anyone as I walk the streets – I don’t want words or noise to break this beautiful silence.

The snow is knee-deep where a vague furrow marks the path of the sidewalk underneath. Here and there benches stand like abandoned sections of country fence railing, their seats and legs coyly hidden just below the snow.

A white plastic bag snagged high up in a tree branch catches my eye. It billows out like a Barbie-sized spinnaker sail, holds its breath for a moment, and then softly collapses with a silent sigh. I stand in the middle of the empty street and watch it for awhile as if looking on a sleeping child.

The streetlights cast yellow and blue tinged pools over the satin-shiny fresh snow, tempting me to walk still farther. I come to a sign that says “Path not maintained during winter.” and so I climb up over the snow bank, lifting my knees high with each step into the uncharted wilderness of the path that leads to the pool house. Halfway along I stop and look behind me. My steps have left neat boot-shaped holes deep in the powdery drifts. At the end of the path I leave another snow angel calling card for the sidewalk ploughs that will come early tomorrow morning.

On my way home I see an uncommonly tall and straight evergreen tree. Each swayed branch is outlined in white like a rib-bone, its twin mirrored on the other side of the trunk and I can’t help but see a tall fish skeleton! I blink and it’s a tree again.

I slowly walk along the side of the street, glancing up at the sighing plastic bag as I pass underneath it again. The only sounds are the faint hum of the occasional street lamp and the first street ploughs far away in the distance.

I look up into the night sky, searching for stars but none appear and so I head home, my mittens and pants damp with snow and a smile in my heart. Chris would have loved this night.

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