Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Little Like Winter

 Though it is still cold, it is now snowing and calm, and so the greatest chill is gone from the air. I suppose the current temperature of freezing will rise to nearly 40° later today and melt what little snow (2/10") we received overnight. Though it was still snowing when my walk time came, I just pulled up my hood and headed out. The snow is falling from the south and so it gathered on the left side of my coat as I walked towards Sams, switched to the right side as I walked back out the lane. It all evens out. I am equally wet on both sides.

 I've always been intrigued by how last fall's Queen Anne's Lace gather the lightest of snows. Their flower heads, now months-dry, seem to reach like brittle fingers towards the sky and snatch every nearby flake as it falls. Where there is little snow on the ground, these flower heads seem to have been gathering in a heavy snowstorm.

 Nature must have a purpose in this way. Perhaps it conditions the seeds for next spring's planting?

 Two days ago, we dropped to 10° and Mom's second flood bedroom window (north-facing) was etched, when the day began, with a glorious coat of feathery ice, perhaps an indicator of our heating costs and an artistic triumph at the same time. How can mere molecules of water take on such intricate structures? A wide view shows the window as I first saw it from the bathroom.

 The day, in the background, has begun clear and crisp and the dark outline of the pines is etched against the blue sky. But here on the window, ice has been drawn in feathery shapes, all while we slept. These storm windows do not seem to leak air - we never feel a draft - and yet cold fingers of air apparently invade the space between the panes and write their message there with icy fingers.

 We would do well to replace the windows (probably installed in the 1960's when the house was bricked) but we paid an enormous fee to have the outside frames layered in aluminum, to protect the old wood, and it would mean starting over again with new windows. It is easier to pay slightly higher heating bills and be done with it.

 A close-up view of a small section of the pane, shows the delicate patterns left there. They truly mimic the feathers of birds and at their root, I imagine nature uses the same instructions for both. Nature repeats herself ad infinitum. It is almost a Darwinian thought: when a pattern is found to work here, it is used again there. But, no, these are not living creatures and the pattern is elemental, cast down at the core of nature herself.

 Now, hours later, the snow is slowing and the temperature has risen to 34° and our quick taste of winter has nearly ended. I button the pocket that contains my billfold and know that it can stay there a while longer.

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