Staff Commentary

The Cleansing Power of Snow

by Melissa Minners

            On the morning of October 28, 2008, I awoke to the sound of meowing.  No, it was more like a persistent yowling, followed by what sounded like a herd of cattle running back and forth throughout the apartment.  This was my catís way of warning me of eminent snowfall.  I shot out of bed.  Snow?  In October?!  But as I glimpsed the first flakes falling from the sky, I began to smile.  Sure, snow this early in the year was bound to make the roadways hellish.  After all, who expects snow to fall in October in the tri-state area?  And, yes, this meant that my already long commute to work just got a lot longer.  Still, I couldnít stop smiling.  Thatís the cleansing power of snow at work.

            Think about it.  Think about the smell of the air in the smoggiest of cities just before a snowfall.  How clean the air smells just prior to the first flakes falling.  Think about how pure, white and fluffy the snowflakes look, blanketing sidewalks, cars, roadways, roofsÖjust about anything they touch.  Witness the pristine beauty of a landscape blanketed by white just after a snowfall.

            But the cleansing power of snow isnít just confined to the beauty it represents.  No, perhaps the most important thing cleansed by snow is the soul.  Snow is perhaps the only precipitous weather event that can turn mature adults into little kids again.  Sure, at first they may grumble about having to drive or trek through snowy conditions.  They may whine about having to shovel the cold, fluffy stuff.  But after a few minutes, they find themselves smiling, playfully rolling snow into balls and tossing them at their loved ones, friends and neighbors.

            Some adults may loose all control, succumbing to snow-it is.  They drop to the ground, lay prone on their backs and flap their arms and legs about creating snow angels.  Still others will gather up the neighborhood kids for a full-on snowball fight or some sledding down a treacherous hill.  Snowballs turn into larger boulder-sized mounds as adults help children build their very own snowmen.  Well, the excuse the adults give for getting on the ground and rolling the snow into larger and larger round shapes is that they are helping the kids, but we all know that they are getting just as much enjoyment creating a snowman they can be proud of.  If they werenít enjoying themselves, why would they bother going through all of the trouble of adding accoutrements to the snowman, making it unique from all of the other snowmen being created around them? 

            As the cold starts to seep in, adults and children alike will venture back inside their homes for a cup of pleasantly warm and soothing hot chocolate.  They will stare longingly outside the windows at the other adults and kids playing outside and want to go back out to join them.  Nighttime comes all too soon and the whiteness of the snow on the ground reflects the light from surrounding homes and streetlamps.  A happy, peaceful glow fills the area and adults canít help but peek out of the windows of their warm homes to see the beauty of it all.

            Yes, itís the cleansing power of snow that turns adults into children once more, capable of ignoring pressing errands, bills, etc. to take time out to enjoy the wonderment of a world covered in white.  Itís the cleansing power of snow that allows us to stop and recognize the beauty Mother Nature can produce.  We allow that beauty to wash over us and give us peace for just a moment in our lives.  The moment may be fleeting, but itís magical all the same.


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