The light peeping around the edges of the shades in my room woke me up at 3 AM. I was amazed at what I saw outside. The full moon enlightening the snow-covered garden reminded me immediately of the lines in “The Night Before Christmas”:
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below, . . .
I managed to get back to sleep despite the brightness and my excitement, and awoke to what seemed to be a perfect snow. The first sign was that it is falling straight downward—no wind. The other was that it was heavier than a flurry but far from a blizzard. A gentle snow but a snow, not a dusting.
Those signs invited me out into it. I’m from the south, North Carolina. I saw snow only once growing up there. Moving to Pennsylvania introduced me to the grace of this kind, heavenly downfall and I’ve always found it more relaxing than music.
The first thing I notice about this perfect snow was the silence it cast about everything. The chilled stillness of perpendicular snow is entirely different. Snowy stillness is unique, somehow, like the petrichor after a rain. One of those mysterious pleasures we enjoy, far too often without realizing it.
Air filtered by snow is also different. Breathing rises from a necessity to a pleasure. It is as though it is clearer, more transparent. It become more crystalline, fragile, and brittle. It comes in and goes out more playfully, somehow, on the very edge of reality. The usual aromas aren’t there: no motor oil, no manure on the farm fields around my house, none of those smells we learn to ignore. Snowy air is air in its purest form, air enervating, bolstering the spirit, driving the mind to a new level of consciousness.
No one else seems to think much about snow in Pennsylvania, except to worry about too much of it. I hope I’m not the only one who enjoys the pleasures of the perfect snow.