Monday, March 02, 2009

Snow Day

When I awoke this morning, snow was falling, the streets and sidewalks were covered and from my bed, I could see that the woods and nearby fields were deeply covered. The big flakes turned into smaller ones, and at last the snow stopped and the sky turned bright blue. I, on the other hand, lazed in bed, read magazines I had ignored for months and over the course of an hour slowly arose to greet the "snow day."

A day for several walks: Late morning, I took a spin in the cemetary past the graves marked "Graves," a redundancy my neighbor, Susie, noted, with the tombstones powdered. Despite the sun, it was very chilly with a brisk wind blowing across the largely open field. In one place, some animal had run in a large circle -- who was it and what was it doing? Not a cat, not a bird -- maybe a rabbit or a fox?

Mid-afternoon, I decided to walk beside the River. The path was littered with footprints but I saw few people along the way. Wind gusts blew me, I looked at the birds -- the red of cardinals against the white snow path, the white throated sparrows pecking at berries and skittering across the ground. Overhead, the snow on horizontal branches metamorphized into trunks whose whiteness came not from snow but from the peeling bark of the Sycamores lining the River.

In the distance I hear titmice and chicadees and juncos -- and the distinctive buzzing of a kingfisher looking for dinner. With my binoculars I come upon two bluebirds fluttering in the branches, the blue so velvety that it could break your heart.

But my quarry is in the river. For several days I have seen two mute swans among the Canada Geese that inhabit the Rivanna year round. In the past I've seen single swans on the Rivanna but never two at once. I always thought the swan I saw over the years was the same one, until I learned that they live for only a couple of years. So I must be seeing new swans each time.

Today, I see only one white swan. Aright, the swan with its curving graceful neck floats elegantly. But just as I settle into this notion of the swan, it ducks its head and kicks its butt in the air as it forages for dinner, and I am left with a comical cartoon-like view of the bird.

Still, my walk is quiet. The snow has melted on the some of the asphalt path, and I notice small mounds where the roots of the nearby trees are spreading out and pressing up through the man-made path.

An acquaintance died today. He had been as alive as these birds, as I am now, and then he was gone. He lived for a week as his family said goodbye.

I walk back up the hill. The neighborhood children are sledding down the hill in my yard, laughing and shouting.

It's a snow day.

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