Gustafson: Rejoice!

Britta Gustafson
Then Again

We could sense it on the wind, feel it in the air, hear its silence coming, and with all its long overdue, reassuring and familiar glory — it came. The thick white flurries have settled across the slopes in billowing fields of rolling misty waves. And in their wake, snow seems to be fresh and still over our mountains. The soft white sheets blanketing the trees and brush, with dollops on every street sign, shroud the village as it is meant to be adorned.

We allow its awe-inspiring beauty to overwhelm and mesmerize, until with heightened anticipation, we can no longer resist the temptation to blemish the undisturbed calm. Trampling, shaking and playing in it like there is no tomorrow.

And the slopes beckon.

Slowly pathways and cars vanish under the noiseless drifts. Blankness. It blows into doorways and window wells, softly blocking us in. It begs us to take notice and break from our habitual routines and antics. The school’s ring out a proclamation, “Snow day,” and even our busy daily pace has fallen under this storm.

But first, let us hibernate for one peaceful day.

Oh, and that heavy, early-morning sleep, the kind that traps you as you melt deeper into the bed. The comforter gently hugging you, a giant security blanket holding you down as the sound of the snowplow with it’s flashing lights, seems miles away in a dream. It all tempts you to snooze just a little longer. And fortune to those who take the day off, the gift of time. Boil some tea, dust off a book, pull out slippers and turn off the news.

And watch beyond the window.

For kids, snow days are exhilarating, not so gently passing. Still, they are a high point in childhood no less. With the mere mention of a chance day off from school, they leap out of bed and dress in an instant. We would never miss the school bus on a snow day — the irony. Even my son, in a full-leg cast, army-crawls across the bedroom floor, eager to roll in the powder and wiggle out a few Cycloptic snow angels.

Outside the blanketed effect is pleasantly isolating. The snowy drifts absorb the routine traffic sounds, and the world feels timeless and clean. With unplowed streets, it’s hard to see where the pavement ends and the forest begins. And the architectural monuments to opulence, those empty luxury-lifestyle statement homes become underwhelming as they, too, are smothered by the presence of nature.

The human imprint on our environment feels softened.

All I can hear is the heaving laughter, for which my 6-year-old is best known, as it fills the muffled snow banks while my daughter sends down cold showers from the snow-laden branches that arch over the driveway, enveloping him in heaps of snow. He waits at my mercy to be pulled in the sled, and then we journey about in our now unfamiliar landscape.

With an acoustic veil, there is a different silence outside. The quiet muting after a heavy snowfall, particularly as it continues to blow in, further muffles busy lives, continuing to soften the clutter of current affairs, tragic events and the political strife storming about in my mind.

We explored for nearly two hours without a car or any other human interactions to interrupt our journey. We dared the drifts, buried ourselves in the embankments and mused at the way our tracks had already nearly vanished when we made our return trip home.

While watching my daughter and our dog clamber up the snowy dunes and seeing the sparkle in my son’s eye, even as his broken leg prevents him from diving into the fluffy banks, I was profoundly struck by what a beautiful force nature truly is.

Though we are reminded of nature’s power somewhere on the planet everyday, we still so often feel mistakenly in control. For it seems to me that, like a virus to a host, we ought to stay cognizant of our symbiosis. This is yet another reminder of nature’s awesome power, foreshadowing the white flag of surrender we could all, at any moment, end up waving in her direction.

Let’s exchange a piece of my mind for a little peace of mind; after all, if we always agree what will we talk about? Britta Gustafson appreciates an open mind; share yours and email her at


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