There are some things that make the world spin a little slower. One of those is snow in Austin. Not the icy rain and sleet we get every few years that shuts the city down, but real snow. The light fluffy stuff you can use to make snow men and snowballs to hurl at your colleagues in the parking lot.
I work a good fifteen miles north of where I live and up there, the snow really accumulated and even covered the grass in some of the nearby fields. Along the neighborhood trails, there wasn’t quite as much, but it was good enough for someone to make this pissed off looking snow man. He’s probably upset that it’ll be sunny with highs in the 50s tomorrow when spring comes back.
After work, I took a walk down the trail to see what it looks like in snow, since it hasn’t snowed since we’ve lived here. I walked to the bridge, figuring the area around it would have the greatest accumulation, but the trail had been well-walked today. I took the above picture thinking it might make a nice contrast with this one I took last summer.
I walked down to the pond to check on the ducks (Gadwalls, Ring-necked and American Wigeon). They were huddled together in the reeds on the near shore. I watched them paddle about and tried to think of when it’s snowed like this here.
I don’t remember ever seeing real snow accumulating in the 22 years I’ve lived here other than one day in Dallas when all of us working at a video editing company stood out on the fire escape and watched it snow while the pawn shop next door burned down.
No fires today, which is fine since it wasn’t really all that cold by the time I got out on the trail. Most of the snow had melted off and there wasn’t much in the way of accumulation, but it was nice to see the trail in a different way, which is, I think, the magic of snow days when you live in a place that doesn’t have them.
These kind of days are good for their slow stillness and silence and the way sometimes nature changes the rules just a bit to remind us to stop and pay attention.
On the way back home, I saw these sticks poking out of the snow. They reminded me of runes, though I have no idea what they might mean. If they said anything, perhaps they were one more reminder to witness the mystery and be awed by it.
This morning I walked about the neighborhood, enjoying the icy world that’s descended on us for the past few days. There hasn’t been much precipitation, but how quiet and still everything seems when encased in ice.
On the trail, all I heard was the sound of my feet crunching through the sheet of ice that formed over the grass. Around me everything shimmered, grey and wonderful.
I walked off the trail into a sort of meadow that I’d never noticed before and found myself surrounded by trees that seemed more ominous than they do on a summer day.
But it’s the smaller things that really beg for attention, the way the ice surrounding a twig catches the grey sky.
Or the prickly pears with each spine covered in a crystalline sheath.
Being cold outside has become such a foreign sensation to me that it’s utterly thrilling, but the best part is, of course, coming home to a bowl of soup.
Yesterday was MLK day and today and tomorrow are snow/ice days for many people, me included. The last time we had one of these that shut things down to this degree was in February 1996. Two weeks later the mercury hit 100 and it didn’t rain again until August.
Today, though, was a good day of chili and reading and watching the sky fall.
It’s melting a bit now, but will probably refreeze by nightfall.
Snow and ice are fleeting things here, they dust the world in white and then they’re gone. I suppose that’s why so many of us spend so much time just watching the snow drift lazily down or listening as the sleet hisses through the trees.
I’ll fix it in memory, hold onto this wintry interlude before it melts away like a dream barely remembered the next day.