There's something very special about first snow. About that moment when you wake to find that someone has come in the night and covered the sleeping city with a white blanket. About the timelessness of that landscape, undiscovered by footprints, alien to the sun; the ghostly silence of the falling snow that convinces you, at last, of the need to believe in angels. About the way the fresh snow makes time itself seem slower, makes the light seem more raw. It's like first love - a shock so brilliant, so magically intense, that you want to participate in it and yet leave it untouched.
Looking out of my window now, the world seems crisper, more exact. Buried under the insistent democracy of the snow, all the world's colours lose their meaning, and the shape of things emerges cleanly, their lines sharper, as though someone had folded and creased them in place. No one is out yet - it's too early - there's only a single track of footprints that leads away from my building, completing the loneliness of the scene.
Like first love, I said. And like first love, I know it won't last. Soon the disapproving sun will emerge to melt the sprinkled snow, turn it to slush. The passage of wheels and feet will mar the laundered cleanness of the ground, leave it muddied, rutted. The sidewalks will turn treacherous. We shall be forced to weigh every step carefully, never knowing when an invisible patch of ice may slip us up. In a few days this first snow will thaw out completely, leaving behind nothing but a stain to show it had ever fallen. And no one will remark its passing, no one will care because everyone knows that first snow doesn't last. There are other, more resolute snows to follow, and this first snow, so reckless, so importunate, is only the harbinger of a long season to come.
Staring out of my window this morning, I think of none of this. My only desire now is to be a part of this miracle, to share in its glory, its innocence, while it still survives. The unblemished snow calls to me like a sheet of paper, challenging me to set my words across it like footprints. If my words melt and are forgotten, so be it, I shall have felt the sting of the winter air in my lungs, the crunch of the new ice under my heels. I shall have confirmed, once again, that I am alive.
Whoever made Easter the day of resurrection was wrong. Spring is a cancer, a return to the messiness of living, the tangled undergrowth of instinct. It is with the first snow that we are born again, returned to the essential cleanliness of the world, its acutest purity, its neutral order. More than anything else, the first snow is forgiveness.