New-fallen snow is a grand inducement to chuck the daily rounds and submerge myself in the wondrous changing - almost unreal - scene that surrounds me. A feeling of calm, a form of meditation, takes hold.
Framed by a fringe of icicles outside my kitchen window, I see a pair of doves patiently sitting out the snowstorm on separate branches of a dead apple-tree limb. Soon, as they do each February, their cries will signal spring's reawakening. The dome of the bird feeder takes on the look of a Victorian lampshade enveloping the quickly diminishing seed. I wonder if the chickadees and titmice are enjoying this magical environment.
In place of the sprawling house partly visible through my wooded property, there's now a fantastic canvas of variegated whiteness. The branches of the tupelo tree now make a more definite statement, but the pines and evergreen shrubs sag wearily with their burdens of snow. Giant oaks take on an additional costume in their seasonal change of dress.
The spidery flowers of the witch hazel already in bloom are unable to show off their yellow, but the snow doesn't conceal their fragrance. The wind chimes hanging from the cherry tree have put their music on hold, becoming part of the universal whiteness.
Picnic tables and benches, with their thick white coverings, appear abandoned. Down the hill, my neighbor's white house looks like a mirage in the snow.
Deck, patio, lawn and garden merge into one vast, stark carpet, which continues through the woods and fuses with the sunless white sky. There's no human intervention to spoil this pure tapestry. No brilliant color - as from cardinal or blue jay - to lend contrast. Not yet. No animal tracks have disturbed the serenity of the white ground cover. There are no motorized snow plows jarring the silence.
This is the time, so fleeting, to be fully in the moment.
To fly south for the winter, as some of my friends do, is to miss a most rewarding elemental joy, a cleansing of the spirit.
Miriam Goodman lives in West Hills.