When the Snows Come
Sitting in our living room, with all the little, dairy barn windows alive with falling flakes of snow, it is as if my husband and I were on a ship, floating on a sea of white. The living room in our converted dairy barn has the feeling of a ship cabin, and I think it most beautiful when the snow is falling.
The glass doors in the kitchen give us perfect view of the bird feeder, our television in all seasons. In winter we watch male cardinals, bright red in the stark white, feed and contend with the beautiful, bullying blue jays. And the more modest, gentle, tiny juncos and sparrows touch our hearts with their humility.
One winter, when the snow had covered the ground for a month or so and turned to solid ice, we watched, horrified, as squirrels clawed at the feeder and fought with one another for a chance to feed, making shrill cries of territoriality. The ground was too frozen for them to retrieve the nuts they had buried in the fall. They were fighting off starvation.
Waking up in the morning there is no need for a weather report as we see the snow piled high on the surrounding trees and see the sky through what used to be the hayloft door, now a cathedral window. The thermometer tells us how cold it is though we can feel the chill in the air. We gauge the depth of the snowfall by watching the squirrels running along the limbs of the trees, cleaning off the heavy snow. They seem friskiest just after a snowfall.
And if we are lucky, and the snow is deep enough, we get out our snow-shoes and climb up the hill out back to what we were told was once a Christian Indian burial ground. There are no markers left but the spot has the air of the sacred and it affords mountain views in winter. High on the hill overlooking the valley, it seems a perfect place for a burial ground. The snowfall makes it easier to walk the hill. In the summer the path is too full of saplings and underbrush to walk the “meadow.”
On our half of the meadow there is a squat fir tree which provides a great shelter for deer in a storm and the deer love the meadow. There are a few blown over trees. And as we snow-shoe we see all kinds of animal tracks which we attempt to identify.
Like many barns, ours was built near the road so there is some traffic noise. But in the meadow we are far removed from the road. When it snows, it is so beautiful in the quiet, looking at the animal tracks, and feeling the spirits in the graveyard. A secret, little piece of Paradise. And to stand there in the virgin white silence, and see the abstract patterns of the snow on the surrounding hundreds of trees, is a taste of the Divine.