The still ecstasy

Moravian Beskids in winter by Marcin Szala CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Silesian – Moravian Beskids in winter by Marcin Szala
CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

“There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest clothed to its very hollows in snow.  It is the still ecstasy of nature, wherein every spray, every blade of grass, every spire of reed, every intricacy of twig, is clad with radiance.”William Sharp

This isn’t the post I had scheduled for today, but I couldn’t let the gorgeous snow disappear without mentioning the record-setting blizzards that covered so much of the country last week. I was in Atlanta when the storms hit the DC area, and found myself stranded there as I rescheduled my flights twice before being able to get home.

Luckily, the frustration of being stuck was tempered by having more time with Mama, Grady, and others I love.  I had thought I was going to miss the flight disruptions because I flew in and out of Richmond, Virginia, instead of Washington DC.  I was wrong.  The Richmond airport was closed for a shorter time than the DC area airports, but long enough to change my plans.

Even Atlanta got a little bit of snow.  A VERY little bit, as it turned out, but still enough to close the schools early, in the time-honored deep south tradition of freaking out at enthusiastic celebration of the very mention of snow.  About which, more to come in a scheduled post that, oddly enough, was written just before the forecasts of blizzards to come.

Grady studies the first Georgia snow he can remember.

Grady studies the first Georgia snow he can remember.

Despite the inconvenience of schedule changes, I must admit I found last week exciting in some respects. I can’t remember when more of the country was getting huge amounts of snow at the same time.  When we arrived back in the DC area Monday night, we were delighted to find that our thoughtful next door neighbors had shoveled the snow from our parking spaces, walkways and front porch — a good thing, since the snow now is piled literally six feet high in some places.  My appreciation of kind friends and efficient road crews is at record highs to match the beautiful white drifts.

I got a big laugh when I opened our back door to put something in the recycling bin.

I got a big laugh when I opened our back door to put something in the recycling bin.

The past two days have been sunny and relatively warm, so the snows are melting fast.  I shoveled part of our deck today, and the creek behind our house is singing a lovely song as the water runs freely through the banks of white.  I have felt anxious and sad for those who were drastically affected by the weather, and mindful of how fortunate we were to have nothing more than schedule changes to endure.  But even knowing the havoc the weather can bring, the beauty of it still takes my breath away.

Did you avoid Snowmageddon 2016, or were you among those of us snuggled up indoors, sipping hot tea and sleeping in and generally making the best of being trapped inside?  Feel free to send us updates, photos and stories– and stay warm and cozy as we remind ourselves that spring REALLY WILL be here before we know it.



  1. Good morning, Julia! I agree with William Sharp and remember even as a child in snowy Minnesota, being dazzled by sunshine on new-fallen snow, sparkling like a billion diamonds! This year, I finally own a nice camera and have been going to get some spectacular snow photos.
    Well, maybe in March, our traditionally snowy-est month. There simply hasn’t been much here, and during the big storm – would you believe I was too far NORTH to see any new snow??
    There were some amazing waves on the North Atlantic, however, even up in Maine, where I was visiting!

    • Maine is one of my favorite places – I’m envious! Are you there for long? I think of March as spring time, so I was surprised to hear that’s when you have the most snow. We had snow in March, too, last year — but I’m hoping not this year. Have fun with the camera — I’ll look forward to seeing some nice shots!

      • Thank you!
        I am safely home in not-very-snowy Minnesota.
        I had to look up Moravia and Silesia on the map, however. It certainly looks beautiful, although cold.

        • I’m glad you’re safely home, and that Minnesota is (at least as of this writing) not-very-snowy. Between you and Jena (who told us that Alaska had been not-very-snowy too, at least by their standards) I’m thinking this is an odd winter all the way around. Thanks to Sheila and her Christmas cookie treats, I knew about Moravia, but I had never heard of Silesia either. Just add one more name to that list of places I hope to go one day! In summer, of course…

  2. blseibel

    I love those big snowstorms and watching it bluster while cozy at home. Thankfully this winter has been very snowless (fingers crossed) because snow removal is all on me now and while I don’t mind shoveling, 2 feet with drifts is quite daunting. We had snowmaggedon in 2011 I think it was and loved it and it took all 3 of us to counquer it. I love helpful neighbor and glad you came home to shoveled walks.

    • When I shoveled off our deck (a 2-day job) I realized even more what a huge favor our neighbors did us. It was a lot of work just doing the deck, even in warming temps near 50 that helped melt the snow as I worked. I read an official summary from our HOA that said our neighborhood got 24 inches. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you don’t have any major snow removal this year. But yes, the cozy days were nice.

  3. Snowmageddon has not visited Alaska yet this winter. In fact I’ve had to use my windshield wash more this winter than my ice scraper! No one here is terribly happy about this (except me).

    • AMAZING! I thought snow was mandatory for Alaska in January. Do your kids get snow days from school up there? Or does the schedule build in a certain number of snow days? It seems like you’d never get through the year if school was called off every time it snowed. I guess those who are unhappy at having no snow must be fans of skiing.

      • Lol! Yes we get snow days, but it has to be a massive unexpected snow dump to count. HOWEVER, the last few years we’ve gotten snow dayd for freezing rains. It will rain, melt all the snow, and them freeze it again causing massive car accidents and canceling school when buses go ditch diving. :/

        • I do think ice is way scarier than snow. You can sort of learn how to drive on snow, but the ice is really treacherous, especially since it’s not always easy to see. Maybe schools in northern regions will eventually go over to distance education for bad weather days, where you can have the virtual classroom experience. Hawaii was doing this at the university level way back in the 1990’s for the benefit of the neighbor island students who literally could not get to Manoa except by plane. I must say I was pleasantly surprised at how effective it was; those of us in Oahu could see all the students on screens, and they could see us, the teacher could call on them in class, etc. So imagine how it would be now that we have such enhanced capabilities. Of course nothing will ever replace face to face instruction– and kids might be even harder to handle via long distance! 😀

  4. Sheila

    Julia, your time in Atlanta must have really nice, even getting to see Grady’s first Georgia snow. I hope your Mama is doing well, thinking of her sitting at the kitchen table. There was no snow reported here, although I saw a cute photo of someone on the beach with a yardstick measuring SAND. Never a dull moment! 😉

    • If I lived where you do, I’d be the one posting the measuring sand photo. My own way of saying “NYAH NYAH!” 😀 Although I never did that in Hawaii when I had the chance, we did spend Christmas Eve at the beach more than once. Thanks for thinking of Mama. It seems to me that she spends more and more time in bed and less in the kitchen, but she does sit in there for some part of every day. Maybe when spring comes and her plants perk up again, she’ll have more incentive to enjoy the view.

  5. Julia,
    Beauty can be inconvenient.

    • So true! In fact, even the ATTEMPT at beauty can be inconvenient, or so I tell myself on Bad Hair days. 😀

  6. Amy

    Hi Julia, I am so pleased to learn your neighbors took great care of you. In the past Stephen and I have helped a couple of neighbors (the very rude folks across the street and a lady with 6 children whose husband was deployed) but no one has come to help us in this mess. We are still stuck in. I have called our plow guy several times and he does not return my calls. Tuesday we called two other places neither of which have returned calls at this time. I am getting a little frustrated. Not that I have cabin fever but the total lack of care on the part of other people is starting to make me feel bad. I have such a complex anyway and this doesn’t help. Last night Stephen and I cleaned the apron at the end of the drive and started working on the berm we had created by trying to keep things clear in front of the garage. It was our hope that the melt off would make it possible for us to drive the truck (which is 4 wheel drive) out of here. Of course it is just staying cold in spite of earlier predictions of warming temps. OK enough wingeing (as my UK friends say). I am loving the beauty of the snow and am thankful to still have power. I could use some eggs and I ran out of milk today if you know someone with a Huey to do an air drop. 🙂 Hope all is going well. We will make a date soon. Love you.

    • Oh dear! If I wasn’t here in York right now I’d try to drive to your place, park as close as possible and have you meet me someplace in the middle to deliver you some provisions! I didn’t realize you were THAT blocked. But it makes sense, given where you live. Maybe y’all should think of getting one of those snow plow attachments that go on the front of pickup trucks. I’ve seen lots of “freelancers” driving around with those in the past week. YES I’m glad you still have power. Keep me posted and if you are still stuck by Tuesday I might come down and hike on in. Tuesday is the first day I have that I don’t have to go to some sort of appointment. Meanwhile let’s have another cuppa. Right now I’m drinking caffeine-free blueberry that my sister brought back to me from her trip to Alaska. I’ve already steeped it 2-3 times so it’s time for a new teabag. 😀

      • Amy

        “Free at last, free at last…” Oh wait I stole that quote from some famous guy. All kidding aside the plow man cometh this morning. YEAH. He does not recommend getting the little car out but that is ok the truck is four wheel and they are predicting warmer temps so shouldn’t be long. In the meantime we can get out. When we win the lottery we will have the drive fixed and paved. It is pretty but narrow and that darn dip in the middle (which we never should have accepted from the contractor) makes it a challenge of a drive. If I can have the truck on Tuesday would you like to get together. We can meet somewhere or I can come to you. Let me know. I am sure Stephen will let me have the truck as long as I take him to the slug lot. Plus if it’s warm enough over the weekend I might be able to get the little car out. Of to the grocery store right now. Love to your boys. Keeping you in prayer. Love, A

        • HOORAY, your snowbound days are ending! I could really identify with the phrase “which we should never have accepted from the contractor.” 😀 After the stress of building Matt’s apartment I can’t imagine how anyone survives building a big home from scratch. It’s a dream I always had but not anymore — we got just enough of a taste of it to say “OK, enough!” I hope you are having some warm temps there. It was quite nice in Alexandria this past week and the kids were loving it, playing in the snows and sledding and having a fabulous time. YES let’s do plan to get together this week. It’s filled with appointments for Jeff but I should have some time.

  7. Lovely post. I missed it–I live in a valley in OR. and our green though grey winters are defined by endless amount of rainfall. But I grew up with snow in MI. and now a couple of children and a brother back east. One daughter is in Richmond, actually (where she is a chaplain) so we got a full report!

    • That’s cool that you have a daughter in Richmond. Let me know if you are ever coming this way, maybe we can meet up somewhere. We go by Richmond about twice a week most weeks, traveling between homes. Living in a valley in Oregon sounds beautiful. I remember the gorgeous green in northern CA that we used to have after all those winter rains. Whenever I’d get tired of the gloomy weather I’d think of all that green and see it as a great trade-off. I still miss those rolling green hills. I never missed cold weather while we lived in all those sunshine states, although a lot of people would say that they did.

      • Well, Portland is between mountain ranges but we are in the Willamette Valley! Yes, you understand the NW/northern CA weather! Thanks, Julia, for the invitation. If we visit Caitilin in Richmond in the next year, I will get in touch! Best to you.

  8. I love snow!!!! We had some in my part of NC and helped my gardens. i don’t have children at home anymore but I still think the quietness of it all is soothing. Glad you enjoyed your time with family.

    • I only found out in recent years that snow is “nature’s fertilizer” and actually helps plants grow. I learned that from readers of this blog, from whom I learn so many things. I also like the silence and the feeling of insulation it creates. I just popped over to your blog and I love it! I’ll have to tell Alys about it. She’s a wonderful gardener. Your cottage is so cute!

  9. Ann

    Fresh snow is beautiful but there should be a rule that it is gone the next day!😊

    • Absolutely! King Arthur (as channeled by Richard Burton) definitely had the right idea — this song is one of my most beloved childhood memories. I must have listened to it hundreds of times. It was one of two or three LPs my parents had when they first splurged on a stereo.

      • Ann

        I haven’t heard that song in years! Thanks for sharing 🎵🎵

        • I love Lerner and Loewe. Their lyrics and music go so cleverly together. I couldn’t say whether the songs in Camelot or My Fair Lady were overall best. They both have some real show stoppers.

  10. bobmielke

    After record setting snowfall totals in 2015 the Boston area only caught the tail end of the blizzard of 2016. We got between 4″-6″ here in Uxbridge, MA, my new home. The snow itself was dry and powdery, making it easy to sweep off our 3 vehicles. My landlord’s son sent a plow truck to clear our long driveway. It was all over in 24 hours as our daytime temperatures soared to 47. We’re still hoping for a mild Winter as we’re halfway to Spring.

    • That sounds like my kind of snow! Just enough to look pretty and gone in 24 hours. What a nice way to welcome you to New England winter. Of course there may be more cold in store, but I love that reminder of being halfway to spring!

  11. Rene

    No snow here in SoCal, but I did see “The Revenant” Friday night, and that was enough snow for me, thank you very much! Seriously though, we are supposed to be in for a monster rain storm, but so far only slightly damp streets overnight.

    • I am so out of it, I had not even heard of that movie. It looks like something I would like to watch. Survival has been a key theme in my life, though I’ve never survived anything so harrowing and life-threatening. But stories of physical survival are great motivation for psychological survival, I find. Thanks for letting me know about it — what would I do without you all to keep me informed? We are supposed to get a monster rain storm here tomorrow too, but I worry more about CA with the feast-or-famine rain situation that sets up flooding. Hope you get just the right amount.

  12. LOL, Snowmaggedon! That’s a hoot. The media tend to blow most things totally out of proportion, so I’m never certain how much of it is really accurate. But now I know, reporting for the East coast, me-me has the scoop. Since we were in Maui at the time, we took some glee in the fact that we were in flip-flops on a palm tree ladened patio while easterners shovelled their way out of their homes or into their vehicles. That’s a little impolite isn’t it? Tee-hee. Sorry about that, but Canadians are normally on the other end of the stick and never have the opportunity to gloat about better weather. So there, we’re not as nice as you might think, LOL
    I bet it was something to marvel at, you all really got hammered. I’d hate to have to fly into that, so I’d rather stay put. Glad to hear you had great company too, look how big Grady is! Does he have a cute little southern accent like you? Your featured photo is really pretty. We get those types of mornings here in late winter. When the snow isn’t as dry and it makes everything glisten before the sun comes up to melt the magic away. It’s nice of your neighbours to look out for you. I always enjoyed that at the lake. We’re starting to get to know folks here too. It’s feeling more and more like home every month. xo K

    • I think it is totally cool that you were in Maui while the eastern US was buried under deep snow. Poetic justice as they say, climate karma for all those long hard winters you tough out. Was it too much of a shock to come back to near-arctic temps on your return?

      Grady has no southern accent whatsoever that I can detect. In fact, one of the first things that surprised me when he started talking is the way he calls his parents “Mom” and “Dad” instead of Mama and Daddy; Drew tells me that’s the Kansas City in him coming out. If they let him drink soft drinks, he would probably call them “pop” or soda” instead of the real word that every Atlantan knows: “coke.” (All soft drinks of any kind are “cokes.”) But give him a few years in Hotlanta. He will be picking up those dulcet southern tones before we know it. If not, I’ll just have to give him an immersion into the language by talking even more…oh, wait, that’s probably not possible… 😀

      So happy you are feeling more and more at home! It’s a wonderful thing to settle into a home and a neighborhood.

  13. LB

    I’m glad you had extra time with Grady, and with your Mother, despite the inconvenience of rescheduled flights and travel challenges.
    I absolutely loved every moment of snow that we received and posted photos all week (I’m sure you aren’t surprised about that).

    • LB, I bet the snow in the Blue Ridge region is unparalleled in terms of beauty, at least here in Virginia. I will certainly have to make time to put on my virtual cross-country skis and tour your world! Thanks for being here.

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