June 14, 2013

Let It Snow

Kim and I put up a wind chime under the soffit of our patio. We quickly learned wind doesn’t reach our patio.

Alas, we have a silent chime.

Our silent chime, however, brought an unexpected treat. A mother hummingbird built her nest on top of the 45 degree slope of the wind chime cap. She exhibited keen engineering skills and an experienced architect’s knack for selecting appropriate building materials.
We hung a feeder near the nest. The mother is well-fed and enjoys a bird's-eye view of the swimming pool.

Our photo reconnaissance shows two eggs, which we’ve learned have a gestation period of around 18 days.

We are eager to see two chicks emerge.

Although summer temperatures are on the rise, witnessing the “hearth and home” of our small neighbor reminded me of a winter day in 2005.

Snow began falling around supper time and continued all night and all morning; a deliberate crowded free fall of thick muscular wet snow light in its touch, soft and lyrical as a lullaby quieting Cedar City, binding folks and families if not to each other at least to the warmth of home.

The girls were hoping of course for a “snow day” to force the schools closed.

I got up around four the following morning and watched.

Parked cars were no longer metallic icons of industrial modernity, but seemed organic protuberances as if they were small knolls or boulders now covered completely in snow and hibernating under limbs and branches of trees, themselves asleep and on which balanced tall ribbons of the heavy ice crystals accumulating, in repose, on all heaven-facing surfaces until the inevitable joining, owing to the agency of wind, warmth or gravity, the fallen yet purposeful snow below.

The old wooden ladder Alison left on the back patio after retrieving her basketball from the roof, was transformed into an object of aesthetic power sufficient to keep me studying it: each rung from the bottom step to the penultimate plank -- caution, this is not a step -- and the forbidden top plank itself, including the flimsy flap for holding paint trays, served as foundations for stoic, foot-high columns of snow. I had intended to throw that dangerous ladder away. I was pleased I hadn’t. Alison was supposed to put the ladder away. I was pleased she didn’t.

The juniper bushes in front of the house, flora whose days were marked for spring uprooting and heartless disposal at the county landfill, became enchanting three-dimensional white fractals frozen in time and space. Lawn, sidewalk, curb, and gutter were indistinct levels existing below an uninterrupted stretch of deep clean snow that confronted variation only at the illusion that our street had vanished and in its place was the Hudson River, frozen solid but ponderous and useful nonetheless.

Any reverence I had for the beauty of snow dripped off my chin and made a salty, sweaty disappearance onto the driveway as I shoveled the white nuisance out of the way so we could pull the cars into the street and get to school and to work.

So much for the romance of winter. Give me the southern Arizona sun!