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Sunday, October 30, 2011

October Snow

We interrupt our regularly-scheduled blog to bring you this special report…..
Right this very minute, I am gazing through frosted windowpanes – the very panes from which I pulled the air conditioner just last week – at thick, fat, white flakes of snow. If my memory of high school English literature serves me correctly, I don’t think this is what Helen Hunt Jackson had in mind when she wrote “October’s Bright Blue Weather.” The only things blue in this pre-Halloween weather mischief possibly might be fingers and toes.

Rather, I find myself recalling Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Even if it is only the afternoon. And I am in the suburbs. And is October, for Pete’s sake. Though I am not sure about Mr. Frost’s snowfall, here in East Norriton, it is the first snow. For me, no matter what the calendar claims, first snow is still a treat.

First snow is a kind of “Everysnow.” The “sweep of easy wind and downy flake” recalls all first snows, although I must admit this year has more element of surprise than most. My memory indulges in sudden recollections from grade school to just last year, all as fresh as the whitewash on the current landscape. First snow means shaking cobwebs from the snow shovel out in the garage, hoping there is still some bird seed and Safe Paws to be had at the feed store, and wondering if the scraper is still in the glove compartment. It is rummaging for hats and gloves and scarves, rejoicing that every mitten has its mate. It is that unequivocal equation that each shovelful of snow equals one cookie. For the first snow, anyway, the calories in a Starbucks Venti Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate do not count.
Sure, I too “have promises to keep.” Too soon, I will head out to work. I will grimace at the soggy white blanket covering the car and the astonished trees with their brilliant leaves laden. I will grumble at the dire traffic reports as KYW Newsradio chatters through my commute. And I will commiserate with my coworkers that we all somehow made it in despite the “lousy weather.” Isn’t that what we are supposed to do?

Right now, though, I will savor my Robert Frost moment.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost
New Hampshire, 1923

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  1. I'm usually not a big fan of snow (unless it's the kind that graces the trees and grass and melts when it hits the streets) but after reading this I feel your appreication and excitement of first snow. We didn't get it in Cape May, but your post may just make me more open-minded the first time we do this year

  2. Hello, Mary!

    I loved your reflections on the first snow, and it brought me back to my childhood, and the joy of snowdays and walking in the park in Hartford CT with the family dog. We always went out early, in the throes of the storm, could hardly see though the horizontally blowing snow, but slid and bounded thru the woods and down the hills, just loving it! It was quiet and beautiful, and no one else was there!

    Mary Morton

  3. Mary, what a beautiful reflection on first snow. It helped me to focus on the positive (and not my knee-jerk I hate winter reaction.) thanks!

  4. ah, hating winter, another thing we have in common