Thirty-two degrees and snowing as I waited at the bus stop.
It was warm for snow, although I was bundled up in a black wool coat and boots. The snow came down thick, heavy, and it flattened underfoot without creaking because of the relative warmth. It had just begun to accumulate on branches, giving the world that open-faced-Oreo look you see on Christmas cards.
While waiting, I paced the sidewalk, noticing again as I did that for some reason, when you take your own footsteps backward, the stride length always seems to be a little too stretched, even though it felt natural while walking the first time. It’s just an odd thing I’ve noticed about myself: I know those are my footsteps, but going back through the same steps, it seems as if I can’t keep making the same pace. Although obviously I can, because I have.
I went to stand by the bushes alongside the sidewalk, and I shook down some of the snow, crunching it together so it stuck in a tiny cube. And then I looked closer.
Living in Serious Snow Country, I seldom actually look at snow. It’s something to be shoveled and avoided. But this time, I watched the snow clustering around the branches, and they were big enough that I could perceive flakes hanging from flakes. I shook the branch, and a bunch fell onto my hand.
You could see the individual snow flakes. For the moment, the world was hushed by the falling snow, and I focused on just those tiny blades, those barely-perceptible points. And then the transformation as my body heat came through the gloves, blunted the points, clouded the clarity, and then resolved the snowflake into a droplet the size of a pin-head.
For a minute, I felt just like a kid, collecting snowflakes for the few moments they were allowed to be mine. Sharp ones, fuzzy ones, conjoined ones — here and gone, and all for me because I was the only one there to witness them.