One of the great things about living in Colorado is all my eastern friends think the winter closes in and the snow starts falling in September and doesn’t stop until the spring, the way it does in upstate New York where I went to college, or later in the year in January or February, the way it does near the city of New York where I grew up. It’s a great secret that it only snows like that here in the mountains, which makes this such a great state for skiing.
Here on the plains up against the foothills, at only a mile high or so, the sun still has enough intensity to make it seem warm when it’s only twenty or thirty degrees. It’s so dry and arid that even when the snow does come down it rarely lasts very long before it’s evaporated away. It takes a big storm and lots of cold to hang around a week or so, especially in the places where the sun is unobstructed.
So when the woman reached over and opened the blinds this morning in the meeting room, I was thrilled as a little kid to see the millions and millions of thumbnail sized, fat, fluffy, gently-falling, perfect-white snowflakes filling the air and landing on the tree branches and the bushes and the still-green October grass.
Walking out to my car across the parking lot the flakes were so thick my hair was quickly coated along with the sleeves of my jacket and even my glasses and eyelashes. The only sound in the windless air was the hissing “s-s-s-s-s” snow makes as it lands on the grass and the asphalt and the cars.
There is something so soothing about that, so comforting and calming. The only sound coming close to it for me is that very similar “hiss-s-s-s” a wood-fire makes in a fireplace as the last of the embers turn to ash. A primal kind of eons-old, in-the-genes sound that still makes me think of going out on winter evenings with my father to walk the dog in the chilly dark after dinner, and then coming home and sitting in front of the roaring fireplace to watch a little TV.
Today was my daughter’s birthday so I drove over to her house to bring her a birthday card and to say hello for a minute. Her little dog, Tig, came running out of the house in the orange patterned sweater I had given him. He threw himself up my leg to my knee about a hundred times before flopping onto his back to be scratched. We’ve only seen each other once since my daughter moved out and I was touched that he was so happy to see me.
Tig is about the same size as my dog, Chippy, but I wasn’t sure the sweater was going to fit. I guessed he’d been out in all that beautiful snow this morning that didn’t even exist anymore a couple of hours later when I came to visit. I’ve learned to find bargain priced pet supplies like chew toys and sweaters the way some people shop garage sales for antiques. Tig’s long coat filled out the sweater where my little dog’s stockier body would have filled it out instead. It fit just fine.
It was a quiet and peaceful day that didn’t get much more exciting than the thrill of the snow. I didn’t once worry about house sales or ex husbands or how to entertain myself with no plans or friends to see. I painted some more of my family room until my not-quite-healed shoulder started to complain and then watched “Dark Shadows,” that inane Johnny Depp film where he plays a vampire. I spent some time on the phone with a friend after that.
Chippy went trotting by on his way to curl up on his blanket and put himself to bed about a half hour ago, so I know it is time for me to do the same. At another time in my life I might have called a day like this boring, tedious, or empty. Instead I have found it a day in which I have had ample time for gratitude. Gratitude for my warm house, plenty of food to eat, friends to talk to, magnificent little snowbursts, and memories of my father. In short, the most simple and basic things. Would that I could be so content every day.