Saturday, January 23, 2016

“The Blizzard of the Ages”

The “Blizzard of the Ages” (and Jonas, too) they have named it, but I doubt that it is.  The snow continues to fall on this Saturday morning and the wind howls and blows it about creating unique snow sculptures never before seen by the human eye.  Perhaps the meteorologists have it right after all.  The winds of this blizzard are shaping forms and shapes that are wholly new, never seen in ages past!  It fills me with a sense of wonder.

I am reminded of another snow storm some years back when my elderly friend, George Prettyman, called to ask if I had a copy of John Greenleaf Whittier’s long narrative poem, “Snow-Bound.”  He was feeling alone in his empty home (having distributed his books and much of his household furnishings in preparation for moving to an assisted living home) and wanted the company of that familiar poem.  I sent the poem to him via the internet as the storm began to materialize. George often remarked afterward that being in the company of Whittier helped him through the storm.

Unwarmed by any sunset light
The gray day darkened into night,
A night made hoary with the swarm
And whirl-dance of the blinding storm,
As zigzag, wavering to and fro,
Crossed and recrossed the wingëd snow:
And ere the early bedtime came
The white drift piled the window-frame,
And through the glass the clothes-line posts
Looked in like tall and sheeted ghosts.
The old familiar sights of ours
Took marvellous shapes; strange domes and towers
Rose up where sty or corn-crib stood,
Or garden-wall, or belt of wood;
A smooth white mound the brush-pile showed,
A fenceless drift what once was road;
The bridle-post an old man sat
With loose-flung coat and high cocked hat;
The well-curb had a Chinese roof;
And even the long sweep, high aloof,
In its slant spendor, seemed to tell
Of Pisa's leaning miracle.

Today, looking out my study windows at the wonder of the storm, I shall read “Snow-Bound” again and enjoy both Whittier’s and George’s company.  It will help me through the storm.

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