penny in a castle

A digital chapbook.

Snowflakes, snowstorms and singing

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I am (admittedly) a little behind on opening advent calendar doors this week so this evening I open my 10, 11 and 12 doors and find…snowflakes, snowstorms and singing in the snow.

When I was a little girl, not much older than my middle-son is now, my grandfather taught me how to make snowflakes out of paper.  The first time was after Christmas dinner, when the entire family had finished dessert.  Various people had left the table to clean up and do dishes.  My grandfather sat at the table and drank his tea, enjoying talking to his grand children. His blue eyes twinkled.

When my grandfather sat at the table after a dinner and spoke to those sitting around him, he always played with his napkin.  Folding it. Unfolding it.  Refolding it in a different shape. Tapping it against the tea cup, against the table.

This time though, he folded it and started to carefully tear little strips out of it. Here…there.  Then, he slowly unwrapped it, and held it up, revealing it to be a snowflake.  He was a magician!  I wanted to do a trick like that.  So did the other grandchildren. Someone brought some paper and some scissors to the table and he tried to teach us.  “No, if you fold it like that it won’t work. You have to do it this way,” he explained patiently.

It took me a while, and a number of tries to get it right.  But now, each year, I make snowflakes and put them up as decorations, or on Christmas cards. One year, I used recycling paper and decorated a tree at work.

Now it is my daughter who loves to make snowflakes.  Earlier in the month she made a whole bunch and covered the front window.  I can hardly see outside for paper.  Like real snowflakes, each is unique in look and design. She’s also learned a new trick that I haven’t even tried yet. She makes three-dimensional snowflakes.  Now our living room is decorated in these too.

Just in time for the first real snow storm of the season.

Everyone expected it, and yet, it is still always surprising when that first really big snow hits.  The depth of it.  The profound change it makes on the landscape. We already have a mountain in our front yard where the plow went by and piled it up.  It hides all the ugliness of a dirty, muddy November under a pristine blanket.

Snow is also aurally profound.  It softens the edges of sound.  It covers everything around it in silence.

I remembered this anew when I needed to go out to the drug store in the middle of the storm.

My son’s skin is sick.  His eczema became very infected this week – for the third time in six months.  We had seen a dermatologist who recommended some new creams and medicine.  But when I went to fill in his prescription behind the counter, the pharmacist looked at one item and kindly said “We don’t get asked for that one often – we can order it in special, but it will take a while. Can you come back in the evening?”

And so, with the storm swirling outside, I decided to walk rather than drive over to the pharmacy that night. It’s only about a kilometer away.

As I trudged through the snow, I noticed that there was almost no traffic – everyone with half a brain having stayed at home.  I could hear the faint shush of my feet moving through the drifts.

The silence of the snow falling all around me was thick.

Suddenly, I rounded a corner on a neighbouring street, and heard the sweet sound of people singing.  I looked up from under my hood and saw people standing at a door, Santa hats on, papers held out in front. Singing Christmas carols in French.  It sounded lovely.

I stood for a few moments to listen.  Then they stopped and went on to the next house.  The Grinch there told them he didn’t want a song.  Really.  They laughed and giggled a little about it as they marched over to the next house, where the person gladly opened their doors wide to let a little Christmas in.

The sound carried me to the store and back again, my feet moving a little faster, my heart lighter under the heavy snow.

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Written by pennyinacastle

December 13, 2014 at 2:23 am

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