Perhaps in a few years I will tire of the snow, but I don’t think so. After 23 years in Austin, Texas, where a dusting occurred every decade or so, prompting the neighborhood to stand in the streets staring, I am ready for four seasons again, including lots of snow.
I love the look of the snow blanketing the hills, draping along the tops of the tree branches, frosting the Norway spruces and hemlocks, putting a little round beret on each of the sour gum seed balls still on the tree. And the way it records the otherwise secret life of the neighborhood – the three-pronged trail of birds across the patio, the deer tracks across the yard, the neighborhood cats boldly crossing our back porch.
I love the sounds of snow, or the lack thereof – the way you can tell, before you have opened your eyes and seen, without looking directly outside, the change in the light because everything outside is white, that it has snowed because all sounds are muted by the snow. And of course the faint rustling of the snow flakes falling, only audible in their thousands.
I had forgotten the sound of the snow trucks; not really snowplows, because West Virginia is not in the heavy-duty snow belt. These are double-duty dump trucks, with a scraper on the front and a salt-and-cinder spreader on the back. In the summer, they serve other purposes. They go along the street in front of the house, which is a federal highway. The city runs pickup trucks with scrapers attached on the narrow side streets. All of them can be heard on streets and roads far away, down the hill and across the valley. It is a cheery sound, because it means the streets will soon be easily passable again.
And I had forgotten the sound of tire chains. I recognized it instantly, though, the first time I heard a school bus with chains go by the house.