Anne Horrigan Geary: A flake for snow

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DALTON — It snowed another six inches overnight; schools are cancelled in many parts of the state. School kids are not the only ones who cheered. I love snow days too. The difference, of course, is that I don't go to school anymore. I don't go out to work in the winter either, but I love snow days just the same.

What I love about them is the pure, white snow, gently filtering down on roads and trees, and rooftops. From my picture window, there is a scene that couldn't be duplicated by Monet or Van Gogh. Each branch of the dwarf crabapple tree has a soft white line on it, chalk white which follows perfectly the curve of the branch.

The hulking maple in the back of the yard has a snow slide which begins on the larger branches and widens as it reaches the trunk. The flow continues all the way to the ground. I think it would make a great toboggan course for the squirrels, but they are too busy hunkering down with their cache of pine cones to care about playing.

The evergreens on the side of the yard have a thick, fluffy mantle on their boughs. I imagine there are birds taking shelter behind the veil of snow, protected from the wind, waiting for their chance to fly out and search for food.

I love the patterns that the drifting snow sculpts on the pergola and the few pieces of lawn furniture left outside. The hot tub steps are now shapeless forms of white, reminding me of heaps of Marshmallow Fluff on a slice of whole wheat bread, soon to be joined by a similar slice slathered with crunchy peanut butter, and mashed into one perfect sandwich. The birdbath, on the other hand, has a perfectly-shaped white pillow on top of the green basin.

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The fresh layer of snow on the gardens is known as poor man's fertilizer, ensuring the beds will be moist in the spring. During winters of little snow, the punishing winds strip the gardens of needed moisture and the cold temperatures often kill even hardy perennials, which would survive easily when blanketed with the insulating protection of snow.

Once the storm is over, the clean white slate of snow in the open yard soon becomes decorated with tracks of all kinds. It's fun to trace how the animals move around the neighborhood, often stalking prey. The neighbor's black cat is easily seen as he scampers across the yard on his daily route around the patio and into the hedge of shrubs leading next door.

With all the wind of the last storm, the yard was littered with twigs and small branches shaken from the big trees. Evergreen and deciduous droppings were flung everywhere in a random pattern of dark streaks on the sparkling, windswept snow.

I never tire of the panoramic views of the distant mountains shrouded in white. We often drive around the back roads, once the plows have worked their magic and piled the snow into towering banks, just to see the varying perspectives of all our graceful Berkshire hills robed in majestic white trappings. One of our favorite routes is from Route 9 in Dalton, to Route 8A in Windsor, up to Route 116 in Savoy. Then we head down 116 to Henry Wood Road in Cheshire and north into Adams. The views along that stretch of road to Mount Greylock are picture-postcard worthy.

Meteorological spring is already here, and soon the warm winds will blow into the Berkshires to stay. Snows will melt and fill the streams with icy water in rapid rills and cataracts. Now is the time to take a few more long looks at the snowy paradise around us. It will be gone before you know it.

Anne Horrigan Geary is a regular Eagle contributor.


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