The rain shifted to snow just after a grey dawn that never really embraced the change from twilight into day. Not simply a light fluttery dusting, but heavy, wet gloppy flakes driven by the north wind into a horizontal mass of white that devoured the world more than a quarter-mile away. As I drove to the school a few flakes danced down, mixed in with drizzle. The wind cut a little, but not badly enough for me to turn up my collar. I was glad I’d worn the heavy flannel petticoat, though. Nothing gets through that, no wind, rain, nada.
After first hour I sat down to start working on an academic paper, and I opened the window blinds. We don’t usually have them open, because of intruder drills (and distracted students), but I like the long, flat, grassy view and I was alone in the room. Higher winds turned the snow into a mist that faded the bare trees a half mile away, around the abandoned homestead. A dark shape flashed up from the brush, hovering on the wind as she flapped quickly. A female marsh hawk hovered, showing where the AV8 harrier took its name from. She pushed forward into the wind, dove down then swept up, allowed the wind to push her a few yards south, then hovered again. She banked towards the building, giving me a good view of her tail and strong wings, before diving into the grass and emerging with something in her talons. Flapping hard, the hawk turned across the storm and flew into the mist, fading into the snow.
Half an hour later I stretched, twisted left and right, and saw my first coyote of the school year trotting back and forth, snuffing the ground, disappearing into thick grass and weeds, then reappearing. Like the hawk, his grey-brown coat blended into the grasses, hiding him from casual observers. A cottontail bolted from cover and raced upwind. The coyote gave it a bored look and continued his hunt, probably after mice and slower rabbits. He didn’t look cold, just focused, if you can call a coyote wandering back and forth on his own business focused.
I went to the ladies’ lounge and got a refill on my large water. When I came back, the wind sounded softer. The world outside the window disappeared as I watched, smothered in horizontal white. Enormous flakes of snow, more globs than flakes, whizzed past the thick glass, making the dark day lighter, if that makes sense, but swallowing the distances and concealing anything more than a dozen yards or so from the building. I wrote more, then made another water trip. That let me peek out the front doors, and indeed, I could see that the parking lot had car-sized lumps in it, but that was all. White blurred the rest.
Two hours later, the brunt of the storm had passed. Visibility rose to a half mile, and a paler landscape passed as I drove, the tan grass holding two inches of snow. It had been plastered four inches thick on the north side of my truck, which happened to be the driver’s side. Yes, I know better than to park with my door on the upwind side. Especially on grey, stormy days.