Monday, February 8, 2010

Snowflake Shadows

It started with the lightest of touches: tiny crystals, pinpricks of light, danced before us like part of our personal 3D movie, as we left the late show of Avatar.

The big snow that saw out January in Richmond didn't have winds forceful enough to earn the name of blizzard, nor were we exactly snowbound, but by morning there was sure a lot of it.

From upstairs windows, we watched a stuck car shimmying in the middle of the block, wheels sunk halfway into the snow, while a few yards further on, some young folks pushed a truck across its path.

It was well past noon when Jim and I finally bestirred ourselves and, fortified with French toast and fried potatoes, ventured outside, he to shovel the sidewalks and I to play.

The snow was dry, so instead of a snowman, I heaped and pressed it into a castle, which ended up looking a bit like a lopsided wedding cake ensconced in a wagon wheel. I used a stick to poke it full of windows, and stuck some twigs in it to stand for ramparts or flags.

Late in the afternoon, we tromped around the neighborhood. Amazingly, the wine store was open so we of course supported our local merchant by buying a bottle.

Down the block, even more amazingly, a placard outside Taste Buds declared it to be opening at 5. It was already 6 and the place was empty.

"We could save the soup for tomorrow," I said, "and support our local restaurant." Jim thought that would be a fine idea as long as I we went there right away, after turning off the soup, without showering or changing.

That we did, and as we walked back to Taste Buds through light but steady snow, on the road ahead we saw something neither of us remembered ever having seen before: 

Gray spots, shadows of large snowflakes, dipped and twirled, then disappeared in an instant, as the flakes landed on their bed of snow.  It felt like watching candles going out, but these were anti-candles. 

Magical, mysterious, hypnotic--they held our eyes till we stepped inside, and I missed them when they were gone.   

I wish we could have filmed them--surely someone has (Maya Deren, Stan Brakhage, Michael Snow?). Later I searched YouTube for Snowflake Shadows, but found only constructed snowflakes--mobiles and stationery and stuff.  

I'm still looking.

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