Snow helps

Hirzel, Switzerland by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

“I believe that snow helps strip away the things that don’t matter. It leaves us thinking of little else but the greatness of nature, the place of our souls within it, and the dazzling whiteness that lies ahead.”  Charlie English

If English is right about snow, it may help to explain why the final years of life are often compared to winter. No matter how long I might live, most of my life is unquestionably behind me now. Time, like snow, acts as a great filter that separates the trivial from the substantive. The years reveal aspects of our lives that were only masquerading as important, eating up time and giving us the illusion of permanence and security. It can be a very difficult lesson to learn; sometimes even heartbreaking.

Yet there is an unquestionable beauty to a snowy landscape, which paradoxically conveys the impression of freshness and purity layered over dead vegetation and nature in hibernation, awaiting rebirth. It’s a fitting milieu in which to close our eyes, breathe deeply, and rest. It’s a time for sleeping soundly and dreaming sweet dreams. Get ready to awaken rejuvenated and restored.



  1. Good morning, Julia! I think you just talked me into staying in bed a bit longer. As it’s a minor holiday, some of us have the day off work, and today I’m one of the lucky ones, who can snuggle back in under the covers and watch my electric fireplace.
    (Great idea, that fireplace thing! I picked up a small, portable one, for my bedroom, which I can bring out to share, if desired.)

    • WHOA, a portable electric fireplace? Really? How fabulous! Send us link, if you can find one online. I had never heard of such. The other day I was remembering that I used to be so absolute about walking every day (even in the coldest, nastiest weather) that I used to heat up small stones to carry in my pocket. I had to put them in boiling water, since I knew better than to use a microwave for that. But I remember it seemed like they got cool so quickly. My electric fireplaces double as space heaters, and make surprisingly good heat. I’m sitting by one now.

  2. Carolyn

    I am looking at snow in my backyard. I had my surgery Friday and stayed one night. He kept me one night because he did a lot more repairing than he had plan. I am feeing pretty good. No incision this time, he went the easy way, but I am very sore. Fill like someone used a bat on me. Hope you all are ok and have missed the flu. Take care, sending hugs .

    • Carolyn, I hope by now you are feeling even better. I’m glad you have the surgery over with. So far we have missed the flu, but I’m almost superstitious about writing that. Hope you missed it too! We had a nice warm (60 degree) sunny day today, but I’m sure the winter will be back soon. I sure loved not having to dodge ice when I went outside today. Matt and I keep you and Terry in our prayers. Sending our love and a nice cup of virtual tea!

  3. WOW! that is a wonderous vista! Snow is mostly great when you’re on holiday. At other times (for me anyways) it amounts to more shovelling, more bad drivers and more outer layers as to not perish in the frigid weather that often comes with it. LOL, is that too pragmatic? Is it possible that Charlie English was a man of means and had ‘staff’ to deal with the down side of snow? ha!
    I will agree, it’s a great way to cover up dead plants until spring. But in reality, here in the North, we throw copeous amounts of sand an the roads over winter to keep traction for drivers. My front street looks nasty most of the time, my car is generally dirty and spring is a big mucky mess. It’s actually my least favourite season. I’m here to serve up a big ol’ helping of snowy tuff love, LOL. But I love the romance of dreaming sweet dreams and rejuvenation so much more. xox K

    • K, you can speak with more authority about the down sides of snow than most of us here can. I’m guessing that quote comes from Charlie English’s book The Snow Tourist and if so, it sounds like he dealt with quite a lot of it. But you’re right, snow is so much more fun when one doesn’t have to get out in it at all. Growing up in the south, I hardly ever saw snow, and never more than about 2 inches at a time. So I had romantic notions about it and I didn’t realize until I grew up and lived elsewhere, how nasty and dirty it gets, and how tired one grows of it; how long it takes those drifts to melt away, and how much time one spends just donning and doffing and zipping and buttoning all those layers. Well my dear, you might just have to leave the northernmost big city on this continent and settle down in a milder climate. But of course, it’s all a trade-off; depending on where you went, you might have earthquakes or wildfires or hurricanes or floods or tornadoes, or sweltering temperatures even after dark, and lots of mosquitoes to make life miserable. Nowhere is perfect. So it’s nice to have seasons to keep us on our toes and give us a break from monotony. Meanwhile, I’m for staying indoors as much as possible when extreme temperatures hit! Stay cozy and drink lots of coffee and tea!! ❤

      • How true. Just ask the folks in California about weather woes. From Drought to fire and now mud slides. Not to mention the impending ‘Big One’. One thing about living her on the prairies of central Alberta. There’s not too many cataclysmic events, knock wood xo

        • While we lived in California, people from other states would ask me if I was afraid of earthquakes. I would always tell them that earthquakes were not nearly as scary to me as wildfires, which seem to happen so often, and almost always with widespread devastation. We moved to the central coast not long after the Painted Cave fire, and the base where we lived was overrun with wildlife that had to migrate because their homes had burned up. It was delightful to see them everywhere that year, but I became aware of how damaging the fires could be. Many years later, having to drive down the interstate in northern California with the dry vegetation on either side in flames was one of the scariest experiences of my life. You make a good point about Alberta and other “low risk of disaster” zones. I suppose everything is a trade-off. The incomparable beauty of California makes living there worth the risk for so many, but I always feel sad for those affected by such catastrophic loss.

  4. Harry Sims

    In 1974 we had a great snowstorm in middle Georgia, accumulating nearly 24 inches.

    What I remember most about it, among many things was the penetrating silence.

    This remains my only experience with “The Sound of Silence”.

    I know it’s there but I can’t hear it.


    • WOW, I can’t remember that one. I must have been away at college already. I can’t remember ever seeing more than a few inches in Georgia, although we did have a really bad ice storm one year. Anyway, you can turn on the TV anytime and hear the sound of silence that Paul Simon wrote about. “People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening…and then the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made.” Wow, talk about prophetic. I’ll take the silence of snow any day over the sinister silence in that song– which, BTW, I think is the best song of the entire 20th century. A true masterpiece, in my opinion.

  5. Sheila

    Julia, such a beautiful post! ❄️ Snow is different from anything else and it really does help most everything. Your description of snow and it’s tranquillity is perfect. We don’t see it enough to suit us but anticipation of just one really big snow is exciting. ☃️ Hope you are doing well, keeping busy and looking forward to Spring. It’s been too cold here to spend any time at Willow Tree, other than just checking on the “tin condo” a few times a week. Please tell Matt I really do have a package for y’all when I’m sure you’re going to be home for a while.📦 Love crosses the miles! 💙

    • Sheila, in all this cold weather, I wonder if your tin condo felt more like an icebox? What a delightful surprise about the package. My schedule is still unpredictable, so check with me since the hold mail service here has lately been unreliable to say the least. Love and warm hugs to everyone at 428!

      • Sheila

        I’m smiling because I checked into Defeat Despair and saw your reply. Icebox is a perfect description of the motorhome, especially on Friday night. We spent the weekend there and enjoyed the getaway. We grilled hamburgers last night and built a campfire to sit by so we’ve had our camping fix now. Jack loves it up there, the smells must take him back to his country roots. We’re back at 428, watching football and eating popcorn. Life is good! Sure love y’all! ♥️

        • Don’t you wish dogs could tell us all the things they can “read” with their noses? But then again, maybe not… 😀 Well, I must say that anyone who went camping in January 2018 must REALLY love camping! You’ve heard of “glamping” but maybe this would be more like “framping” ? Of course this weekend was much prettier. Remember those old aluminum ice trays that had the handles on top to pull back and crack the ice cubes out? Maybe y’all should make a fake handle to attach to the top of the tin condo just for a few laughs (the way they used to put those fake wind-up keys on top of VW bugs…) OK I’m showing my age now for sure! Seriously, your camping sounds wonderful, especially the campfire part. I’m sipping Strawberry Chocolate Rooibos tonight, and loving every drop…So much fun to be playing Verandah in (almost) real time! 🙂 ❤

  6. Harry Sims

    Did you put the mojo on us Julia?
    We had a nice slushy snow here in the South.
    It was beautiful.
    It was quite quiet.

    • Oh my, I wouldn’t send snow anywhere right now unless someone REALLY wanted it. But I’m glad you got some of the good kind of silence!

  7. I’m odd in that I LOVE winter. I remember when the snow would start and the hush was so quiet it actually woke me. I always loved the snow until I couldn’t shovel it. So now I have a rainy winter and love that too. It doesn’t require a shovel. 🙂 I love everything other than really hot. Snow does bring us inward. I do miss it. Interesting how we want to hibernate in the winter months and be introverted. You express this so well that there is no way to add anything to it. Other than there can be too much of a good thing. Hope you get a break from it. Hugs, M

    • Marlene, there’s a quote I have intended to feature in a post here, written by another who loves winter. Perhaps I will try to use it before spring arrives. When I do, you’ll know “this one’s for you!” although I’ll probably say that in the post anyway. By the way, did I ever get a break from the hibernation yesterday and today! It was in the 70’s both days, in Alexandria one day and in York County the other. I enjoyed being outside for part of both days and actually got too hot. WOW. I had to keep reminding myself that winter is far from over! But I agree: weather is great. I don’t like it too hot or too cold, but I do love the seasons and the variety they bring. Keeps us from taking any of it for granted. 🙂 ❤

      • I’ll look forward to seeing that post on winter. 🙂 It’s 47 hear now at 7:30 am and wet all week. We do need rain and the mountains are getting some snow. Always a good thing.

        • Marlene, I think I will post it either tomorrow or next week. Thanks for the idea! We had temps in the 60’s this weekend but they are warning us that it ends tonight.

  8. Michael

    Did u catch the blue -blood moon w partial lunar eclipse last Friday. ? Pretty cool.

    • No, but I did hear about it. I think it was supposedly best seen at around 3 a.m. here, which meant I didn’t even try. Jeff was always so good to let me know when anything interesting was happening in the astronomical calendar. He would go outside and check to see if anything good was visible and then if it was worth seeing, he’d come in and get me and we’d go out and look at the moon together.

  9. Michael

    Winter is over?

    • Not quite– it’s in the 20’s today– but the days are getting longer and psychologically, if nothing else, the cold is waning. I’m trying to get ready for spring. I never get as much done in winter as I imagine that I will, but that’s okay because I’m at the age where prioritizing rest is a good thing to do.

  10. Mike

    Supposed to get up to 72 today. But I don’t believe it. Funny the weather person said today, “its another day of Seattle gloom.” It does look like Seattle today,but the warmth and rain reminds me more of Hawaii.
    Verie and her younger sister Laurie are flying in today. Laurie is deaf and I may have mentioned that. We plan to make the deaf ministry service on Sunday at Woodstock Babtist. A huge church off of 92 that looks like a Roman Coliseum with pastor Johnny Hunt, who has a section of highway named after him.

    Some Georgia legislatores are worried about all the, Seattle liberals from Amazon coming out here and changing their way of life.” Not sure what that means. I will try and not add to the chaos.
    Have you heard the legend of the Cherokee rose? Very poignant. There is a statue of a Cherokee hunter,brave outside the Canton courthouse. The figure is holding a bow and arrow and some kind of a big cat– maybe a lynx. I don’t know. Lots of souther Vultures in this area and they are quite hideous face to face. Mike’s place is close to Fort Buffington one of the gathering places for the start of the Trail of Tears. Some 600 souls were held here in a makeshift corral. The Cherokee rose supposedly sprang up along the trail while they marched and can still be seen today. On my return trip I hope to see more of this history. I get a really bad vibe when I drive past the sign for Fort Buffington, but have yet to stop there.

    • Hi Mike, I hope Verie and Laurie had a pleasant trip in. Let me know what you think of Woodstock Baptist. Jeff and I were never enamored of the huge “mega church” places, although we sometimes did visit the one where Max Lucado preached in San Antonio, because he was such a good speaker and was so kind to Matt. We usually chose smaller congregations (100-200 members) because it was easier to feel like family there. I hadn’t heard of Fort Buffington but now I want to go there. It might be that the history behind it has only been formally recognized in recent decades. Re: “Seattle liberals coming in and changing the way of life,” I frankly think it’s more likely to happen the other way around, and the newcomers will grow into that unique Atlanta vibe. Most people who come to Atlanta grow to love it and want to stay. I’m biased of course, but it’s hard for me to see Atlanta through the offensive Southern stereotypes of outsiders. Few cities can claim to have risen out of ashes, as Atlanta literally did, and Dr. King’s legacy of nonviolent resilience is alive and well there, in my opinion. BTW I wouldn’t be surprised if it did get up to 72 there– it was at least that warm here, and I got outside and enjoyed working in the yard, visiting with neighbors, etc. It’s warm again today and I’m fixing to go back out there and get some more stuff done before it rains– because as they say in the deep South, “it’s coming up a cloud.” 🙂

  11. Mike

    “Its coming up a cloud.” I like it. I heard an Atlanta weaterperson say,” It’s another Seattle rain day. here.” Or something like that. People ask me if it really rains that much in Seattle. I say unfortunately yes it does.
    Another NorEaster is heading toward NYC. Verie is flying out this weekend to help out. I may have mentioned that? My DIL’s Mom in Ohio got the kidney Tx and Rachel is going back to help out, so Verie is h eading up to help Kris in NYC. Actually today’s rain here in Canton did remind me of Seattle ,but only last for a couple of hours.

    • Mike, I haven’t been keeping up with the storm news, but I hope Verie did not get the worst of it in NYC. It’s hard for us to imagine the kind of rain you have in Seattle, but perhaps it is not too different from London weather. Jeff and I would have loved a tour in the SeaTac area (or in England too for that matter), but we did wonder whether the gloomy climate would get to us eventually. I think you will come to love the seasons and sunshine in Atlanta.

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