Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Giant flakes of snow poured down through the trees and pattered on the hood of my jacket. In the clearing where the trees had blown down two summers ago, I dusted away fluffy white layers of snow to find the top of the pile of wood, cut and split and left in a heap the day before. I then dug out each piece, one at a time, and tossed them, clattering, into our homemade wood sled.

The snow began to fall that morning, tiny pinpricks of glittery light sifting steadily through the air from a gray sky with creamy yellow edges. The flakes fattened by the hour and the wind swirled in from the low mountains until everything was white, even the empty spaces in between.

Through the shifting veil, I dragged the empty wood sled up the trail that had become little more than a dimple in the smooth, rolling surface of fresh snow. Bear and Murdoch cavorted through the trees, kicking up their feet, coats turning white, ears flapping wildly in the brand new, muffled, landscape.

I called their names into the calamitous silence of the falling snow so they wouldn’t get carried away and disappear into the forest with the tree trunks all plastered white on one side. They circled back to meet me as I wove around smooth white mounds that were broken and crooked tree stumps only yesterday. In their mouths they each carried a stick, Murdoch leaping and bounding his way through the deepest snow, Bear marching confidently up the path I cut with the sled, her back end swaying with each sweep of her tail.

I threw the sticks while I dug out the wood pile, sending Murdoch’s sailing as far as I could through the trees to be swallowed up by great cushions of snow, and tossing Bear’s right to her so she could snatch it triumphantly out of the air again and again.

The snow fell thick around us and I turned my attention to loading the sled before the wood I uncovered disappeared again beneath a freshly laid blanket. I tossed each piece into the plastic bin, bolted and glued to an old pair of downhill skis, and watched fat flakes shower down into the clearing.

When the sled was full, I called the dogs as I glanced up to see where they were. Bear stood amongst the trees up to her armpits in snow, while Murdoch leapt about in circles, wrestling with a stick, crashing through snowdrifts.


  1. I had to turn on the air conditioning in my car today. The air conditioning! Freakishly Warm Winter 2011-2012 continues. That first photo is really funny, I know it's one of the dogs, but it looks kind of like an alien being in the snow ahead on the path, perhaps an Ewok...

  2. As a skier, I revel in snow and like Bear when I'm "up to [my] armpits in snow" and like Murdoch when I'm "crashing through snowdrifts", I come to life. I am submerged in beauty and nourished in connection - the world expands. This well-written article, deep in snow, creates a vivid and beautiful sense of place. Your two bounding dogs and I would get along well on a mountain in snowstorm, chasing each other through "great cushions of snow", falling through white gravity.

  3. Air conditioning!? in January?! crazy.. It's been weirdly warm here too, except for the odd deep freeze days we've had, but we've been low on snow. We did manage to have a white Christmas this year, but just barely! It's great to have more snow. The dogs love it too. That picture is of Murdoch, he ploughs through life in general, but the snow makes it way more fun!

  4. Ian, Murdoch would be a fantastic skiing partner, he would blast down the hill beside you or follow closely, snapping at the spray off your skis or, more likely, he would tackle you. Perhaps he would not be such a fantastic skiing partner :)