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Pauline Lerner

Beauty in Snowmageddon

February 14, 2010 at 5:51 AM

Greetings from Snowmageddon.

Here on the East Coast of the US, we've had two big snowstorms in the past week, and they nearly immobilized all people and suspended all activities. I've lived in this area all my life, and I've never seen anything like this.

The snow is usually prettiest when it's falling. Later it melts and refreezes, and people, pets, and vehicles leave their marks. During the past week, when the snow was falling, I kept going out on my covered balcony and taking photos. I'll post some of them later.

One night, when the wind reached gale force, I went to the entrance to my condo building and looked outside. The only illumination came from a small outdoor lamp. I saw something I've never seen before, a scene so intense with beauty that it was almost religious. The wind had sculpted the now into beautiful, long, gently curving dunes. I have seen sand dunes like this, but never snow dunes. The snow was completely pristine and untrammeled. As I watched and my eyes accommodated, I saw gentle gradations of white that followed the long smooth curves of snow. The only sound was the wind. I was alone with the elemental forces of Nature. I stood there for a long time, watching, listening, and absorbing.

When I couldn't stand the cold, I went inside. There I discovered that I could still see the snow dunes through a window of my home. The view was different because I was above ground level. I looked down onto the dunes and found new patterns of light and shadow along the sinuous crests and soft, round valleys. I was transfigured by the unexpected beauty, and I watched it all night.

When the sun was just coming up over the horizon, the view changed. All of the snow looked blue, and the gentle crests and hollows showed subtle gradations of the color blue. It looked like the landscape of a dream.

When the sun was fully up in a cloudless sky, the light was strong and direct, almost harsh in comparison to what I had been watching for hours. The sight of the dunes was all but obliterated by the strong light.

Shortly afterwards, a crew of workmen came with their snow shovels and cleared the sidewalk.

The awe inspirng beauty of the snow dunes at night vanished like a dream. The beauty was unexpected and ephemeral, making it all the more precious to me.


From Emily Grossman
Posted on February 14, 2010 at 8:44 AM

Welcome to Alaska!  Ready to move yet?


From Pauline Lerner
Posted on February 14, 2010 at 11:39 AM

Emily, you've got big time snow in Alaska.  Snow here is much smaller and less frequent, by far.


From SAM MIHAILOFF
Posted on February 14, 2010 at 2:31 PM

Thankfully, spring is coming soon...34 days and counting

animated clock

From Emily Grossman
Posted on February 14, 2010 at 7:23 PM

Oh, rub it in, will you?  ;)


From Pauline Lerner
Posted on February 15, 2010 at 3:40 AM

Emily, I thought you liked snow because it's so pretty where you live and because it's part of the seasonal life cycle in Alaska that you like.  Really.  I'm talking seriously now.


From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on February 15, 2010 at 4:48 AM

Pauline, thank you for posting that.  It must have been really awsome to make you stay up all night to watch it.  What an ending!  In daylight it was just a nuisance that must be shoveled away.  The workers didn't get to see it for the magic thing it was.  I look forward to seeing the pictures.

Fran

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