Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Snow as Sand

The world is different under the snow, like a ship resting at the bottom of the sea. Snow is a poet, transforming objects into more than what they are while allowing them to remain the same. The magic is found in that connection between what is and what could be. Benches become overturned mattresses. Shrubs and small bushes are the bodies of kittens sleeping under a tangle of linens on sloppy, unmade beds. Snow allows us to see and assume.

The magic of snow is that not only does it transform the things it buries, but it has the power to transform itself with the ease of a glance from an impressionist painter. It ceases to be snow, becomes a field of diamonds, an abyssal plain, the pale skin of a loved one, the memory of bone.

Walking the park tonight was a bit like flying over a foreign land. As I relinquished Duncan's leash and let him gallumph circles around me, I watched my booted feet, still strange and new to me, crunch through the top crust of the wind-hardened snow. There was a moment with each step where I wondered if it would support my weight, which it quite often did, but just as often held for only a moment before cracking in chunks, splintering a crater around my foot. I looked down on the wind-swept surface and saw a desert from miles above, with tall dunes rising in gentle slopes or forced into rugged peaks. Valleys and canyons spread out in all directions, and ripples, from a long-vanished sea, tickled against the bases of the trees. Every now and then, where the wind had whipped too hard, the yellowed grass was exposed, naked and shocking, like a glimpse of someone from behind a shower curtain. Or more aptly, like an occasional oasis bursting through the sand, shattering the unending monotony of the desert.

It was a tough walk. Even listening to the cracking and collapsing sound of my footsteps was work. But it was beautiful in a way I'd never seen before. Snow as sand, my dog and I riding the choppy air above it, transforming the landscape with steps and imagination.

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