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Friday, December 9, 2016

In Which Snow Arrives

You expected maybe a snow scene?

From inside the house, in the night, darkness all around, one feels the cushion of new snow around the foundations and blanketing the surrounding fields. We were warned to expect the storm on Wednesday night, beginning at midnight, but in the dark of Thursday morning I knew before looking that it had not come. The wind’s sound was unchanged: it swept yet across bare ground. Gusts of blowing flakes came midmorning Tuesday, but little accumulated, and still the cold wind blew. The forecast was rewritten, moved off another twenty-four hours, and expected accumulation revised upward.

Waking around 4 a.m. on Friday, however, I felt the difference immediately. Utter stillness ... that sense of being wrapped ... soundless insulation. In the South, I thought, there would be quiet after big winds as live oaks, sea grapes and palms would cease their rattling, but it would be an empty calm, would it not? Up North, in winter, here the calm of winter’s first heavy, swaddling snow is dense.

I got up for to make my morning cafĂ© au lait, anticipating the light that would reveal, in a few hours, a transformed landscape, but for the moment content with my books, beginning my day’s reading with the final chapter of The Swerve, reading the story of Montaigne’s copy of Lucretius, of Anne Hutchingson’s translation, and of Jefferson’s correspondence with John Adams. For the morning, at least, in the dark with an untouched blanket of snow wrapping my old farmhouse, I smiled to think of the social pleasures of reading – not only communion with writers distant in time and space but also contemporary conversations and correspondence with book-loving friends.

We are not isolated from one another, we readers. We do not withdraw from society when we go into our books. We are deeply social.

I reach for pen and paper to begin a letter to a friend.

*  *  *  *  *

Later. The snow was not as deep in the yard as I imagined it would be, but that scene (and the one here in town) may change in the hours ahead. Meanwhile, if you are up here at the north end of the Leelanau County and don’t usually see The Glen Arbor Sun, stop by and pick up a copy today at Dog Ears Books to enjoy the article on “Orchards and Orphans” by Kathleen Stocking. Also, please note that, by Kathleen’s own request, we are running a “blue light special” (minus the blue lights) on her essay book trilogy: $25 for all three, if you get in here fast enough! That’s practically like buying one book and getting the other two for free – and what a great holiday gift for a special someone on your list!


Dawn said...

Sometimes when I take Katie out very early in the morning after an all night snow I feel inside that sense of insulation. The totality yet softness of silence.

Have a wonderful, peaceful holiday up there in the magical north.

P. J. Grath said...

Thank you, Dawn. You, too!