Blue Shadows


How can I not comment on the weekend's snowstorm—Snowzilla, the third biggest snowfall ever recorded in the Washington, DC area. We were certainly well prepared for it.  Do I exaggerate when I say that it generated more observation and opinion before it even happened than any storm to date? All the latest technology was used to track it. The grocery stores were emptied days before. There was so much attention put on the exact moment the first flakes were going to fall, that a slight snowfall two nights earlier was completely ignored (and it was responsible for hundreds of car accidents as rush hour commuters hit the icy streets). I've lived in this Virginia suburb for a long time, but I've never gotten used to the panic that snow causes in its residents. Maybe its because I lived through winters in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Upstate New York before I moved here. I agree its no fun to dig out of it (and living on a dead end hill that rarely sees a snowplow, I know what I'm talking about). But the benefit of a big snowfall no matter where you live is it gives you permission to stop and rest for a while. As long as the power stays on and there are no other life-threatening circumstances to consider, snowfall is one of the wonders of nature. Airports and highways are closed and suddenly there is silence—a rare occurrence almost impossible to find anywhere in the world. The landscape alters dramatically, and all that is manmade is suddenly softer and cleaner—cars and compressors, trash cans and telephone poles vanish or change shape under drifts of white. As this snow ended, the full moon broke through the clouds, lighting the white hills of rooftops. And once the sun came out, blue shadows scooted across the smooth surface of snow. It's worth the inconvenience for a few days of quiet and alien beauty.