The snowflakes fell one by one at first, but then their numbers increased, two by two, 10 by 10, then more than I could possibly count.
If I let go of the focus in my eyes the falling show would look a driving torrent of snowflakes, but when I zeroed in on them, they changed form. Now they were delicate little flakes moving this way and that way as they gently drifted down past me.
They also had multiple forms when they’d hit into me. First they’d sting as the cold and the icyness of them would hit my cheek. But then just as that sensation of ever so slight pain would take hold, they’d start to melt from the warmth of my face. The cold sting became soothing as the melting caressed my cheek before evaporating. Then the next one would hit. Pain followed by a caress.
Snow is like that. It’s beautiful and it’s harsh. It makes the world white and bright, but it can make even the smallest thing hard - piles to trudge through, roads a nightmare to drive.
There are so many ways to look at snow, so many things to feel with snow, so many ways it changes the world and everything in it. It’s like no other element of weather.
Wind you can feel but not see. Sun casts light, but does little to change the physical objects you encounter. Water is wet, but of so little substance.
Snow hits all your senses, you can see it’s whiteness and you can feel its sting and its melt. You can hear how it muffles sound. You can be stopped by its substance. You can slip on it too.
Snow is real and tangible and then it can just melt away as quickly as it came … leaving no trace. Piles and piles can show up overnight and then be gone in a day.
I’ve realized I feel most alive when it’s winter and there’s snow. These little frozen bits of water piled up around touch me in some profound way. Snow makes me feel part of something bigger and yet at the same time remarkably alone in a harsh demanding world.
Snow makes the outer world reflect my inner world. It constantly changes and shifts. It’s lovely and terrifying. Things hurt and are soothed simultaneously.
This is snow’s weird beauty and its weird magic.
Respond to it by loving or hating it, but know the winter snowfall is something special.
Tamar Charney is the Managing Director of NPR One.