Huge flakes of snow tumbled slowly in front of the headlights as I drove to a
meeting in town. The snow was sticking on trees, brush and grass, but the
ground was warm enough that the road was not covered. The huge clumps of
flakes seemed to hesitate and glide on their way to the ground. I like to
drive on nights like this -- into a black backdrop curtain with “snowflake
dancers” on stage.
I could tell that Chub doubted my wisdom when he said, “Good thing I got the
snow tires on this week.”
A few times I considered turning back, but I was scheduled to read something
to my writers’ group, and the group helps me improve my work. So I drove on,
slowly, etching the beauty of the night into my memory. I’d be home by 10.
Trees were reaching out to catch and hold arms full of the snow -- the first
of the winter. As a child, I had to hide my delight when it snowed because dad
had extra work, trudging through it to care for the cows and other animals.
The milk cows had their daily ration of crushed corn, wheat bran and a
sprinkling of cotton seed meal and salt. The others, however, scrounged for
nibbling-grass and ate the hay he hauled to them. Then they’d bed down on the
coarse hay stems. Dad wasn’t all that happy about a big snow.
After the meeting, I found that the snow had ended, and heavy limbs almost
touched the thick white blanket on city lawns. In the streets, the deep snow
had been churned over and over till it looked like gray ice cream.
We dread snowdrifts on the farm; they can close our driveway off in several
places. However, the wind was behaving itself, and the snow stayed put. The
cold front had passed, and I drove slowly and cautiously out toward the farm.
As I turned from the blacktop onto the county gravel road, I saw that few cars
had driven this route since the snow began to accumulate. All of the tracks
are right in the middle, on the crown of the road. There are no signs of
meeting or passing. I follow the middle tracks for the next two miles. My
neighbors’ homes are dark. Everyone is asleep in a warm bed as are our
children. Chub is up, though, watching for my car lights...worrying.
But I must not hurry.
Turning left at the mailbox corner, I stop and stare ahead. I’m facing an
untouched white strip between two rows of weed tops. Nothing has disturbed the
blanket of snow. No vehicle tracks. No human footprints. No deer or raccoon or
rabbit or bird. Reluctantly, I begin to break the trail -- in the middle, of
Perhaps my earlier tracks were the last tracks tonight. They’re now more than
five inches down under the white strip. What a great thing, to live where a 7
o’clock snow is undisturbed three hours later.
Now, I’m driving slowly around Red Bud Bend, passing our bee yard where
thousands of three-banded Italians are semi-motionless for the winter months
and where forty-three of our walnut trees are resting up for the growing
season to come.
“Hello there, Castor. Hello, Pollux. Hello, Big ‘W’ with one crooked leg.”
Glancing up, I locate the “big fly swatter,” but the little one must be
overhead and out of my sight. Someday I might learn the proper names for the
constellations I named long ago.
Now I can see our Christmas lights in the distance. Yes, Chub is watching; he
just switched on the carport lights.
As I turn into our driveway, cow eyes reflect from the woods where they’re
“There you are, Big Dipper~! Still pointing to the North Star.” I can count
on that. Always right over our pond bank and never more beautiful than on
nights when we’re skating on the ice.
The driveway is a narrow white ribbon between pasture fences. A little branch
of a creek trickles across the road at the bottom of the hill, on its way to
New Orleans. I secure the car and step out of the carport for one last look at
what a city girl called, “the planetarium” over our farm.
The thought strikes me that even dad would have loved this snowy night.