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Monday, March 15, 2010

Falling snow - 2/16

Although there was no one for miles, an expectant hush fell over the bare fields. Above the brown grasses hung heavy gray clouds. That weight in the sky seemed to smother any thought of movement. Nothing stirred through the rough brush. The wind failed to stir the earthy aroma that clung to the bare stalks. Everything upon the plains was waiting for the same small indication of winter that was close enough to taste in the air that tasted crisp and raw and full of a cold promise

The first sign of its arrival came with a single drifting flake that descended from the silvery sky in a languid tumble. The flake swayed from side to side, unhurried. Its tiny edges caught on the thick air that stretched the distance between its cold form and the waiting, hungry ground. The rough stalks strained up towards the encroaching flake. It landed softly on the tallest of limbs, like a feather or misty breath. It clung for only a moment before the dry grass drank in into its parched surface.

That one tiny flake though would not be enough to quench the lingering thirst on the earth. Far above in the blanket of clouds, more were waiting.

They slipped free slowly at first, following in the wavering wake of the first tiny explorer. The trickle soon became a shower that left the spindles of grass dusted with a layer as fine as sugar. As they fell each flake hushed through the air and landed with the slightest of crinkles upon the chilled ground. Their entrance further quieted the plain and as their numbers increased they absorbed any other lingering sound.

The weight of the clouds only seemed to grow as more snow tumbled out of the sky. The release of one, then many, seemed to draw the dark mass closer to the earth. Each tiny fleck from the clouds that landed on the earth seemed to urge the clouds to join them upon the ground.

As the shower became even heavier, the thin coat began to thicken into layers that began to soften the sharper edges of the stalks. Whiteness began to coat every surface, smoothing it out into one long and uninterrupted plain. Before long curves bulged, creating an undulating landscape where there had been a sea of individual spindles. The jagged tips that had stretched to the horizon were muted and quieted under the rhythmic landing of one flake that fell upon the next.

The white of the land extended out towards that once visible horizon. Now it was obscured as white blended to lighter gray and then into the darker hues of the heavy clouds. In that smooth transition of chilly sights there was no longer a ground, no longer a sky, no longer up, no longer down. The crisp landing of one flake upon the other that echoed in the indistinguishable landscape was the only evidence of any movement in the blinding whiteness that had been released. It smoothed imperfections and swallowed everything in its path equally in its bottomless maw.

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