Excitement and peace

The woods behind our northern Virginia home, seen from my bedroom window, January 2019.

“It was the sort of storm that rarely happened…and the steady white flakes, the silence, filled him with a sense of excitement and peace. It was a moment when all the disparate shards of his life seemed to knit themselves together, every past sadness and disappointment, every anxious secret and uncertainty hidden now beneath the soft white layers. Tomorrow would be quiet, the world subdued and fragile…The world, for a few short hours, transformed.” ― Kim Edwards

When I read this quote I noticed right away the rare combination of those two concepts in a single phrase: “excitement and peace.” At first the two sound incompatible, but my reaction to snow proves otherwise. Like the character in Edwards’ memorable novel, when I look on freshly fallen snow I feel both emotions.

It’s a luxury, of course, that I don’t have to worry about getting out into the weather and negotiating the snow-covered streets. For a blissful few hours of respite I can put off shoveling the walkways and sweeping the snow from my deck and patio before it begins to melt. An overnight snowfall brings with it a rare moment in modern life, when everything stops briefly as we draw a collective breath and simply admire the incomparable artistry of nature.

Depending on whether you are in the northern or southern hemisphere, you may be observing winter wonders or the warmth of summer’s charms. I hope you will have a few moments in which things stop, however temporarily, long enough for you to be blessed with the delicious sense of excitement tempered by peace.

22 Comments

  1. Judy from Pennsylvania

    Your quote from Kim Edwards puts into words the undefined emotions I have had while watching snowfalls from the various windows that have framed winter pictures wherever I lived. I’ve now read the quote a few times just to soak in the beautiful way she expresses this universal feeling of captivating peace and simultaneous excitement. Thank you for this lovely post. I’m trying to think of other scenes that bring up similar feelings. Maybe a springtime rain accompanied by low rumblings of thunder?

    • Judy, I’m so glad you liked the post. I think you found another perfect example in your mention of thunder and rain. As long as I don’t have to get out in it– and sometimes even when I do– I love rain. When we moved back east in 2004, living east of the Mississippi for the first time in nearly 15 years, I re-discovered the excitement of never knowing when a thunderstorm might come up. I grew up in a home that had a screen porch with a metal roof, and I used to love sitting out there in the summer when the rain was pouring down, especially when it had been sunny just a short time ago and we’d come running in from the pool to get out of the rain. Sometimes there was cold watermelon waiting. Bliss!

  2. Chris

    Hi Julia,
    Nice photo! A fresh blanket of snow over any landscape gives that “peaceful” sensation.
    Here’s wishing you and Matt a peaceful, yet exciting week! 😊

    • Thanks Chris. Today was peaceful for the most part, and even exciting in a way, when I saw that snow was starting to melt off of the streets and walkways while still looking pretty everywhere else. I took that photo about halfway through the accumulation. We ended up getting almost a foot, from what I can tell.

  3. Sweet Julia, I have felt that excited peace before!😃 Love to you and Matt!❤🌟❤

    • Cherie, I’m glad you know what I mean. Or should I say, what Edwards meant! Sending you flurries of cyber-hugs!

  4. MaryEllen Davis

    Goodness! Suddenly missing my Virginia roots and the excitement and peace of a snow-day.
    Love from the Alabama coast.

    • Thanks MaryEllen! I’m sure there’s a lot to like about the Alabama coast, too. Especially at this time of year! Don’t know whether you still have family in Virginia, but if you ever head my way, please look me up. 🙂

  5. Sheila

    Julia, just to watch snow falling is something I’d love to do on any given day. ❄️ Your snow looks so beautiful and to think it kept snowing. I’m glad that you didn’t have to go out. I read the related post about long ago summers and your love for the screen porch when it rained. Of course I smiled! We were adjusting to much cooler temps here today. I had to laugh when Bill returned from walking Jack and summed it up with “He’s on his own agenda!” 🐾 I always look forward to Monday’s for obvious reasons. Love to y’all. ♥️

    • Sheila, one fun thing about dogs is how they always have their own agenda, even if that agenda usually includes an obsessive interest in what their human family is doing. I wish the two of us could time travel back to that little screened porch in East Point, where Mama would be serving up the watermelon ice cold. If it wasn’t a rainy day, Daddy might be cooking on the gas grill right outside that porch, and we could sit by the pool (which was in the back of the back yard, separated from the rest of the yard by a fence) where we could gossip and sip iced tea. I guess that would have been a forerunner of Club Verandah. There’s a crazy novel in there somewhere, but I’m too lazy to dig it out. 😀 Meanwhile, I’m glad you look forward to Mondays! I might sound like Raynard when I say that somewhere in my mind, I can hear the Mamas and Papas singing “Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day” and “Every other day, every other day of the week is fine, yeah, but whenever Monday comes, you can find me cryin’ all of the time.” I hope my little post is a tiny ray of something positive in what is often a difficult and much-maligned day of the week.

      • Sorry, I got interrupted…here’s a visual to enable your time travel daydreaming. The beta for Club Verandah, circa 1976.

  6. Excellent, Julia! You’ve captured both true emotions experienced as a result of newly fallen snow.
    As a teacher I can attest to the same. When an early dismissal was announced due to snow, it was the children who expressed the excitement and I, the teacher, who awaited the peace that was sure to follow.
    -Alan

    • Alan, I love that! Excitement for the kids, peace for the teacher. How true, how true.

  7. I also feel both emotions about snow! I LOVE snow and miss it very much!

    • Well Denise, you are welcome to come visit the snow here in Virginia anytime! We have plenty of room. The only catch is, as with trying to time the cherry blossoms, it can be very hard to plan. In the case of snow, though, it’s a win-win. If it didn’t snow while you were here, that would mean it would be easier to get out and about enjoying the sights! But for a sure-fire way to see snow, there’s always Anchorage or Edmonton, where two of my favorite people from this blog family live. I bet they are surrounded by it right now.

      • Yes Anchorage and fairbFair both have snow right now. My old stomping grounds.
        PS I bought flowers yesterday!!

        • Wonderful! I guess the pressure is on me now 😀 . The snow is melting and I’m hoping to get out and about tomorrow. I’ll update you! Thanks for telling me about your flowers. I have a big grin on my face right now just thinking about it. BTW my first neighborhood friend in my new neighborhood (other than my next door neighbors who are wonderful) grew up in Galena, Alaska. I never met an Alaskan I didn’t like.

          • What???
            My parents lived there before I was born. Small world!!

            • Denise, when you start running into spontaneous connections between people from Alaska while you live in Virginia, you realize that it is indeed a very small world! But still large enough that I’ve never seen most of these places in person, and I hope to see a great many of them eventually.

  8. Harry Sims

    Hello, I’m Harry — just visiting.

    • Hi, Harry. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you are having a wonderful week!

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