Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Season's first

Snow! Yes, our part of the city received a very generous amount of the pristine, powdery sheen over the weekend. Just when I was beginning to worry if we would have to go back to India empty-handed, without a chance to watch the familiar soft white fluffs blanket the stubborn, wintry ground. But there it was, magical and eternal like every other first. It felt new despite our two rather harsh winters spent in the East Coast. It was welcoming even if the slushy roads were not. And it was heartwarming, in a very childlike cluelessness, in spite of the plunging temperatures and the ticklish chattering of the teeth trying to spell brrrr!!

This morning as I stood on the patio shivering, enjoying the Narnia-like landscape, it felt fantastically surreal. Like a vintage oil painting, the scene reminded me of James Joyce's 'The Dead' from Dubliners. A man who has just learnt of his wife's romantic past is shaken by the suddenness and the intensity of the moment - that her dead lover is perhaps more alive to her than her emotionally frigid husband ever could be. He contemplates this ugly truth standing by the window watching the snow fall quietly, while a slow but heady storm wells up inside him. This passage is perhaps one of the most poignant piece of writings that literature has ever seen where Joyce, the master storyteller shines throughout.

“A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.” 

~ James Joyce, 'The Dead'


  1. It is a long time since I read this and I had forgotten it entirely until reading it here tonight. Thank you. I wonder if we shall have snow here in Wales this winter? For the last two winters we have had a lot and have been stranded sometimes up here on the hill. I love and dread it in equal measure.

  2. My goodness that was a lovely way to end your post about your first snowfall. I'm glad you have experienced the snow! We are having the same weather up here. Another 5-10 cm are predicted tonight and I have to drive over the Malahat Summit to work out of Nanaimo for a few days. Oh well, I have chains for the tires!

  3. elizabethm, I'm glad my post reminded you of 'The Dead'. It must be quite dramatic to live on the hills during snow. I can understand your love-hate equation..

    Pondside, I hope all's well at the ponds considering the current blizzard pounding the entire Pacific Northwest. Take care and drive safe.


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