Goose Creek Journal ~ Snow: 2010-01-30

White upon White

Just a quick update here while we still have power. This is not a wet snow, nor does it look like it’s going to reach anything like the depths of the December storm, but you never know and we are prepared.

Just for fun, I thought I would have an episode of back pain just now, so it’s the wife who’s doing the work this morning, tending the chickens at the moment. I can see through the window above my desk that the dog has found the scent of a mole and only his back half is visible above the snow, dark soil flying out behind him. He becomes invigorated with the cold weather; what with him wearing that heavy tan sweater year-round, now the weather suits his clothes. Watching him enjoy the snow reminds us of how much fun it was to watch the kids with their sleds and snow forts long ago. He wears his wet mittens inside.

I have to confess that there is still something magical about an overnight snowstorm. To have the landscape so quickly and utterly altered in a matter of a few hours still shocks, seeing suddenly the same landscape as utterly alien. A blanket of snow changes everything, obliterating some, accentuating other shapes and forms against the pure white background. A dense ground fog is a close relative, giving the eye not much more than the hand can reach out and touch.

So, will shoveling snow make or break? It will have to be done, soon, before the soft powder turns to white cement on the cars. I think I’ll be much better by afternoon (he said, hopefully.) The tiny ice pellets that built up the first five inches of white that we awoke to has given way to softer flakes falling in pure verticals. We can see the base of the tree line faintly at the edge of the farthest pasture, treetops only imagined, obscured in snow-fog.

We have no place to go and no way to get there, plenty of firewood, chili simmering on the stove, and the world within our grasp. Life is good.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. “We have no place to go and no way to get there, plenty of firewood, chili simmering on the stove, and the world within our grasp. Life is good.”

    There ya’ go, Fred, ol’ boy! That’s th’ spirit!
    I got a fire goin’ in the box stove in the basement, the dogs are camped out ’round the kero heater in the dining room, Janet is making french toast and I’m getting a show of snow the likes of which I have rarely seen.

    Grandaddy usta say “Things ain’t bad!”

  2. Yeah, since shoveling snow is notoriously the worst culprit for throwing backs out of whack, don’t shovel, no matter how much you want to get out with a car. Take it from a fellow back sufferer, who also came down with a severe low back spasm yesterday morning, which hasn’t abated a bit, and in fact has gotten worse, in spite of a chiropractor, much stretch exercising, heat, vibrating back cushion, etc.

  3. I actually did some shoveling yesterday, but with the new ‘ergo’ shovel, it was more a matter of pushing w my body wt than lift and twist–which is an orthopedically bad combo. Still stiff especially in mornings but not a disc issue, thankfully.