We’re primed. Stoked. Scared. A blizzard is promised. Bad enough. But this one heralds a polar vortex, a frigid enormity escaped from its northern confines like some Hans Christian Andersen hoar spirit, a deadly winged thing, snuffing out all warmth with its alien whorl. Unknown, unseen, imminent.
Last night, anxious, I studied the sky. It was blackened purple, hunched over our roofs, silent, anonymous. There was no intention in it, no breathing. Just a color like a deep bruise. No lullaby in that color. More like The Erlking.
This morning’s snow was yesterday’s, nothing more. Except for the wait. Then the veil came down and now I watch the world through it. It grows thicker, and the world through it whiter. Enlaced, this everyday suburbia becomes a fantastical bakery, transformed as it is into wedding cakes and meringues.
And who knew there were so many twigs? Every tree and bush reaches into the air and pulls the white onto itself. Each bit of bark, each leftover dry tendril gathers the softness in finely balanced heaps. Each stands out against the moving air in meticulous relief: white embossed on white. Formal, elegant.
The houses up the street wear a heavier veil now; they are more distant though no farther away. The snow does that, you know: it makes things seem more distant; it disorients with its dim contours, and, as it removes all else from sight and hearing, it leaves us with just ourselves. This is its gift and its threat.
Now sky, roofs, streets, plumes of birch and upstretched arms of maple merge into one white as the temperature catapults downward. A cold fanged wind coils these indistinct forms in an arctic night. Fragile, we wait in menacing beauty.