Snow Day

It snows in Texas.

Last Wednesday started grey, with low, darker clouds massing to the north and west, scudding past on a westerly wind aloft. At the surface, nothing but a soft east wind that managed to find any gap between collar and hat brim and dive in. The clouds stayed north, dropping rain and a little snow, wandering toward Oklahoma. The day stayed grey, and quiet. A waiting quiet. Then the rain began.A light mist thickened into a soft patter-pat. Drops of cold, very cold, rain darkened the pavement and tree bark. The clouds dropped, the lower scud darkening, losing its lighter grey edges as clots and clumps merged into a lower ceiling. Headlights shone from the wet pave as cars splashed past, their drivers intent on getting home, running the last errand before the snow began. The rain faded a little, then began to flutter. A few white bits dawdled down, raced to the ground by the rain and losing. Then more and more, the white replaced the clear rain. But only in the air. The ground remained wet and bare, winter-tan grass and dark roads, dark brown-red dirt naked to the air cooling air. A week of warm sun had left its heat in the ground, melting the flakes as they ventured down. But soon the press of numbers overcame the sun’s residue in the soil and white appeared among the brown grass.

By nightfall white covered even the roads. The low clouds carried a yellow tinge from the streetlights. Fewer and fewer cars ventured out as churches and organizations cancelled meetings and gatherings. The night grew snow-bright, even as visibility dropped. Snow ate the world, its curtains isolating each house from the next, one town from another. Silence, the silence only snow brings, filled the air. The snow swirled, touched by a northeast wind that piled it against walls and glued it to branches and brush, touching the taller grasses with white on their north sides. Quiet and snow stilled the plains.

The next day passed grey. The streets thawed a touch but the grasses, roofs, and un-moved cars kept their coats of solid white. Pillows and puffs of white remained lodged on tree limbs, patio chairs looked like overstuffed recliners. The sun appeared just in time to throw gold over the world, then disappear into the west, flanked by rainbow sun-dogs. Cold, hard stars glittered down from a black, endless night, Orion staring down from the crest of the night sky, Venus marking the west-south-west. Cold came, ice hovered in the air and turned street lights into pillars of white. Another quiet night passed as the stars rotated through the heavens, crimson-eyed Scorpio bursting over the eastern horizon in the early morning.

The sun threw diamonds over the plains. Each stalk, winter-sere leaf, stem glittered with a tiny fur of ice. Cartier could not set such tiny gems, all glittering and tossing sparks in the morning light. White covered the lower ground and clear rainbows spangled the grasses. Human and other animals’ breath steamed in the light, ice crystals fluttering down from the life-marking clouds. The neighbor’s Labs and Golden Retrievers tossed dazzling spray as they jumped in and out of the snow. Soon the sun and southwest wind would smooth away the shimmer, melting the snow. But not quite yet.