morning winter window

I’m sitting at the dining room table this morning drinking tea and watching snow fall– or actually I’m watching it do a whole lot more than fall– big flakes carried on variable wind so that sometimes it drives straight down, sometimes flies sideways, and about half the time ends up floating upwards for awhile before drifting eventually down again. Not that it’s all doing the same thing at the same time either, layers of it near, midway, far—snow gives a sense of air’s distance and depth which is ordinarily unapparent—the red brick building across the street serving as an excellent backdrop for discerning the motion of so many distinct white clusters. When the wind is light, it feels like a delicate, weaving dance in several parts, choreography complex and dynamic. And then there is the changing daylight—now a dull glare, tall buildings in the distance highlighted against a cotton grey sky– now they darken as the foreground begins to gleam—now it all goes matte and dim. There’s the sound of the wind and motion of tree branches gesturing in it—air quiet and near-still, humming with gathering momentum, the whir and howl of a whipping gust. Sometimes the snow lets up, becomes so sparse it seems finished—and I’m sad for the end of my tumbling show—and then it will drive down suddenly harder than before, a white grocery bag caught ballooning high in a distant tree branch, smoke steaming from a stack on the red brick’s roof. And the trees seem to bow and nod to one another, shake side to side, conversing in a code of motion—if I could translate it to sound, it would be operatic, dirgelike, gossipy, falling to a whisper. Three figures emerge from the rear of the red brick building bundled up in big coats against the cold, file down the narrow path toward the sidewalk and out of view. I hear a child’s laughing cry on a gust and imagine setting out for sledding in snow pants and gigantic boots, woolly mittens and scarves, hats of all shapes and motley color. Here where I sit the clock ticks quietly behind me, the potted shamrock on the sill nods red and green leaves delicately in a draft, wedged triads facing outward like me, toward the light. The radiator clanks halfheartedly. My tea cools. And again the snowfall seems to have sated itself. A fat caramel-colored squirrel wanders out impossibly far on a thin twig, scurries about, begins some acrobatics in the lull.

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