(HOST) As yet another winter storm swirls into the North Country, commentator Deborah Luskin is thinking about snow – and why she loves it.
(LUSKIN) I have the sense of direction of a suburbanite, so I depend on blazed trails when I’m out in the woods, except when there’s snow. Snow covers the ground like a clean page, and when I walk across it, I leave the story of my journey embossed on its surface. I can always retrace my footsteps to find my way home.
Snow erases boundaries, buries stonewalls, and fills in small streams. One of the great adventures of winter is cautiously walking on water – frozen solid and covered with snow. With snowshoes strapped to my boots, I can head into the woods and make my own path. For this reason alone, I find snow cover wonderfully liberating. But snow does so much more.
Most obviously, it transforms the landscape to a dazzling white. Winter days may be short, but snow intensifies the sunlit hours. On a sunny day, snow reflects the brilliant blue of the winter sky; under moonlight, the snow illuminates the night. In the woods, snow outlines the branches, turning the landscape into one of monochromatic beauty filled with many shades of white.
Snow makes studying nature easy. The drama of woodland creatures is written in the snow, and I can easily read where the deer nest under the hemlock or follow the path of the hare to its hole, or read the panic of small rodents scurrying across the vast whiteness of a snowy field.
I know there are those who don’t like the snow – or winter, for that matter. Not me. The best thing about snow is how it covers the garden and hides the yard. Once the snow falls, all the work of the previous season comes to a halt. Snow makes it legitimate to rest. Indeed, we’ve been working toward winter since April, when a load of logs was dumped in the yard.
All spring, summer, and into the fall, we cut, split and stacked firewood. Now, all we have to do is stoke the fire, and sit by it – reading and eating the food we worked so hard to plant, pick and preserve. And when we get tired of resting, snow invites us to play. Sure, we have to shovel, and that can be a chore. But once that’s done, my biggest problem is whether to ski, snow shoe, slide, build something out of snow or pick a snowball fight. Snow reminds me of childhood; it makes me feel like a kid again.
Snow makes for a snug season. But underneath the thick blanket of snow, I can hear the water in the streams thrumming like the pulse of the earth. In a few short weeks, the snow will begin to turn a gray, and even I’ll get tired of it. But for now, I’ll throw another log on the fire and get back to my book.