Monday, August 30, 2010

Fifteen Days

Fifteen days.  That's how long it's been since the last snow, but I can feel it coming again.  I remember the first day after the snow fell.  I climbed free of the tree I had been hiding under and paused on top of the drift that had kept the wind at bay the night before.  I watched as a small bird lightly pressed his feet into the white and hopped past me, toward an icy pine cone.  Each track blazed into my eyes as I stared down at them.  I don't know how long I stared.  Long enough for the bird to fly away before I noticed that he had nearly picked the pine cone clean, leaving behind a mess of brown flecks.  The brown startled me.  The tracks suddenly seemed so faint, so ethereal compared to the dirty brown flecks of the pine cone.  I know the tree where the bird feasted on the pine cone quite well.  I visited it every day for a week after seeing the little bird, just to see that pine cone, and look again at the tracks.  The tracks from the few animals that care to show themselves at this temperature are all mixed together now.  They remind me of the grass and how it grows whichever way it pleases, crossing over itself and mixing together into a frayed whole.  The pine cone is gone now, and the bird's tracks are completely undefinable, but I remember them well.

The forest is silent after the snow.  I wonder what the city would be like if it snowed this much.  The silence alone would drive half of the people mad.  Sometimes I think of the flakes as tiny pillows.  When I was young I used to scream into a pillow to get out frustrations.  No one can hear you when you yell into a pillow.  Now I don't need a pillow.  Like many things, the frustrations of youth seem distant and exaggerated now, but sometimes when the snow is falling hard I still scream as loud as I can.  The muffled sound is mysterious to me.  Sound waves hitting tiny pillows in the air. 

Snow changes as it ages.  I can dig down into the snow and count the layers like rocks in the grand canyon.  Each layer is a new chapter of the winter.  Some are long, some short, and some are missing altogether.  Time between snows can erase entire episodes of life that have been captured.  I knew that this snow would stay because the cold and sun have given it a hard upper layer.  When the wind blows I can hear the snow creak and moan like an old house.  It is time for a new layer, time for another pine cone, and more fresh tracks to mar the perfect white.  The snow will start to fall tonight, I know it. The clouds have rolled in, covering the sky.  It is only a matter of time before they cover this forest again. 

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