The stars shone down from a clear sky overhead, but the north wind’s teeth warned that even a sunny day would not bring heat to the air. And stripes and bands of cloud appeared with twilight, high ice clouds streaming by to the south. A normal winter morning on the High Plains of Texas. Only the wind moved freely, hissing and rattling through the winter sere grasses. Birds remained quiet.
Two hours after dawn, a cold sun turned the grasses into a soft tan fur, interspersed with patches of dark brown and russet. But the northern sky remained dark, a white-grey-blue speckled with dirty grey puffs of cloud. Something frigid this way came, lurking to the north. The wind shifted northeast and the southern sky remained pale and bright, ice-clouds like streamers across the light blue of the winter sky.
By noon the northern sky had slipped south. Darker blue, almost blue-black, hung on the horizon, while paler blue hid the sun. Any hint of heat faded and died, masked by layer after layer of cloud. Snow-scuds, the little hints and dribbles of snow cloud that run ahead of the storm, swept back and forth across the sky, not so low as to snag in the bare trees, but lower than the blue behind them. A few lonely birds darted through the air, seeking cover and food. Humans hurried as well, rushing to finish their chores and get out of the wind. The wind’s fingers found a way through button holes and around up-turned collars, stinging noses and numbing fingers faster than gloves could cover bare hands.
Word came from the north and east: snow. The long-rumored snow had become real, the first tiny stinging flakes flashing past on the wind, wrung out of the air by the cold.
Winter danced across the plains.