A Tourist in Snowville


I couldn’t imagine why nobody was outside.

I’d arrived home from the office with sparkles on my windshield and the definite feeling that it was about to snow. The temperature had been falling down through the 40s my whole way home, but was it really cold enough?


At first I thought I’d just take to my pajamas and sit in front of the fire; that resolution could only hold out for so long. We don’t get snow in Austin every year or even every few years. It’s been over three decades since that storm that stranded us in St. Louis for three days because 18″ had fallen in central Texas and there was not enough equipment to clear the airport runways. We’d come back to town to find abandoned cars lining every roadway.

We don’t get weather like that any more, so when even the least dusting of snow makes its appearance it seems important to go out into it and see what the world looks like. Last night it looked like holiday lights and cold flakes falling.


On such nights even the streetlights are strange.

I don’t know why we weren’t all expecting snow; C’mas is only a few weeks away; houses are festooned with all the lights and lawn decorations; three days ago it was 85 degrees (yeah, I’m not kidding) – of course Thursday evening would bring snow!

Lantana and icy leaves by the front door:


The next morning Travis and I ventured out early because the forecast predicted 50 degrees (we like our winters to be the roller coasters of the temperature world) and the sun was on its way to melting everything. We made straight for the path from Hilltop to Blue Valley to see what we could see.


The ground was naturally not cold enough to let snow pile up, but all the leaves and branches and long blades of grass had been chilled enough through the storm to hold onto plenty of proof that it really had snowed last night. (The other source of data would be the morning’s traffic, about which I shall say nothing because I am trying to be upbeat and positive here, okay?)

We were the sole moving creatures in the place. With the work world off to a late start, there wasn’t even any traffic noise in the distance. The air didn’t quite reach that level of muffled, cottony silence you encounter in the woods after a foot of snow has fallen, but it was good enough.


So well that’s about when I started feeling like a tourist in Snowville, taking photos of everything as if no one has ever encountered such a sight before.

Maybe it’s like you can’t step in the same river twice: no one actually has seen this particular snowfall before.

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I was in my polka-dot rainboots, so my feet were quick to get cold and I’m not wild about my footing these days as it is, let alone on slippery rocks on a muddy jagged path. So Travis and I turned around before we’d made it all the way to Blue Valley.

Back at home there was still some winter beauty to appreciate.



As it turns out the only humans I’d encountered in my mid-storm walk the night before were some of the kids down the street. In a wildly abnormal phenomenon, we can observe kids playing outside all the time, and even though they make a racket and don’t always pick up the poop when they walk their dogs, I loved the fact that they were bundled up and making snowballs.

And a seven-inch-tall snow person.

One of the things I miss most about being young is newness. Of things, of experience, of emotions. I think in order to make art of any kind you need to be able to sense the world as though you were just born this morning.

Although that’s more difficult for me these days, I’m glad when it’s beauty that opens that particular door – even if the beauty is fleeting. Maybe especially when it’s fleeting.



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