Monday, October 31, 2011

Out of the Windswept Chaos

This weekend, the forces of nature dumped a big, wet, sloppy grey Nor'easter on the East Coast of the United States. It was the wrong weather at the wrong time of the year. I like that in a weather phenomenon.

George Augustus Williams: "A Snow Storm"
On Saturday morning, we awoke to a rainy grey that kept us snoozing with the covers up over our shoulders longer than usual. As the day continued, ice began falling, too, ticking on the windows when the wind gusted, and it started to whiten the colder surfaces: the hoods of cars and the tops of mailboxes. Little deposits of what looked like rock candy began to collect in the cups of dead leaves scattered across lawns.

It was a chilly, bone-deep gloom that kept people under quilts and in house coats for much of the day -- or in bed, altogether, well into the afternoon.

At around noon, I looked out of my back door at the rain, which was now speeding down insistently. But at one point, the rain was falling and the ice was driving down and a little snow was timidly wandering earthward in big, sopping flakes.

At first, I stared at the "wintry mix," trying to make visual sense of it against the yellow-orange background of the trees -- the trees who had been sure, up until that wild morning, that they'd been dozing, drunk on the wet soil, through the middle of Autumn.

After a moment, I raised my eyes to the highest bows and locked them on a snowflake, and I followed it down through a long, lazy descent. As I did this, the other snowflakes came forward, out of the windswept chaos, and the audacious rain and the ice retreated into the background and I found myself able to watch the delicate dance of the flakes, from the sky down to the grass, where they disappeared forever.

After a moment of this, I laughed at myself a little, realizing that this was the very magic trick I had spent my whole life trying to learn -- the prestidigitation I attempt each day, from the ungainly slapping of the snooze bar in the morning to the nightly dropping of the book onto the chest.

Cool. It would seem that Nature didn't retire from teaching after the nineteenth century, after all.


  1. Damn you. I pride myself on my vocabulary, but had to google "prestidigitation..." :) Beautifully written.

    Which brings me to another puzzlement. Does one have to capitalize "Google" when used as a verb? I must be under a Halloween spell of a dodgy old English teacher, methinks.

  2. THC! Great to hear from you again, even if you have consigned me to the eternal flames! Haha. Here's one for you: I even managed to get "prestidigitate" into a melody of one of my songs on my CD. (Though I still feel a bit inadequate, as Bruce Hornsby got "prestidigitation" into a melody on his song "Spider Fingers.")

    As for your Google question, I have puzzled and puzzed 'til my puzzler got sore amd, alas, I have no answer. Since "to Google" is the verbed version of a proper noun, things get complicated. I suppose if someone verbed my name, I'd want the capital to stay, though I'm afraid Matarazzoing would probably have something to do with eating too much cake and sleeping until noon.