by Zinta Aistars
Snow! The heavy skies split from their weight and spit, then spill, then release a great flurry of white. My heart thrills. At last! This winter has been barren here, while elsewhere in the country blizzards have buried entire towns. Now that I have only a short distance to drive from office to home, I don’t at all mind. It’s good powdery stuff, sweeps easily from my car windshield.
I watch my gas tank trickle toward empty on my way home, but shrug it off. I estimate this commute would cost me perhaps a bit more than one tank for the entire month, whereas on my usual commute of 110 miles per day, a tank can hardly get me through the week. Eh, let it go. Take it to fumes for a while, I think, grinning.
Traffic moves slowly, cautiously, tires spinning on snow. I drive in that orderly line, humming. No hurry, it’s all so close … and already I am there: home. Day 3 and the pleasure still doesn’t get old. My old cat Jig is pleased to see me, coming to the door at the sound of my key, and makes a happy yowl. I feed her, but leave my coat on, climb into my boots and head back out.
The stack of firewood is on the side of the house, and I am intrigued with the clever installation of a door in the house wall that opens into the bin inside the living room. Three hooks on either side of the door and it slips out neatly. I can stack firewood directly into the bin from the outside, saving myself a zillion trips with an armload of wood. I stack enough for at least two snowy evenings. The physical effort feels good after a day of sitting at a computer and desk, writing.
Before going back inside, I head out toward the barn. I walk around the end of the huge red structure, my boots sinking deep into drifts. Around the end and behind it, out toward the acreage that goes with the house. The snow sinks a bit where there was a path in dry weather. I follow it. Out, out, on the white sunken path, through dry field grass bent under snow, and out beyond, into the field of white. The last dregs of daylight turn deep blue across the sky, darken to charcoal gray. There, that sliver of moon again, behind a fog of flurries.
My boots sink into snow, and I feel the soft of the grassy earth beneath. There is no one here, not even deer, no life, only the softly swirling snow from the darkening sky, and the line of trees where the woods begin at the borderline. I walk and walk, and I feel small in the center of the white field, and I like this smallness … a bug against the greatness of earth where it’s been left alone.
Near the borderline of trees, I stop and gaze up at the now night sky. Falling snow makes my head swim a little. Snow kisses my upraised face, melts on my cheeks, touches cool fingertips against my closed eyes. I push the hood of my coat back so that I can feel the cold air, the snow, catch the snow in my hair, brushed by a winter night.
I stand in utter silence. A deep, cool, softly swirling silence. I stand in a white night. I stand alone in a white field, a mere dot, a tiny life against all this vastness and greatness, this cool earth.
The red barn looks like a black mass in the distance, hunched under the blanket of white. A pale line of light shows around its end, in the direction of the house, where I have left on a light.
Back, then. I walk slowly, boots swishing soft snow, leaving great clumsy tracks. Not at all like the delicate herd of last night’s deer, their tiny hooves built for speed. Around the barn, back toward the house.
A tiny dark figure, my old cat Jig, waits at the corner of the glass back door, watching me come home.