On Sunday, it snowed. It began to fall at around nine o’clock in the morning – tiny flakes, like the clippings of a baby’s fingernails, or desiccated coconut. It kept up for over five hours: silent; persistent; blown everywhere on the breeze; insinuating itself through the cracks between door and frame.
The larger the flakes, the more water in them; and the more likely they are to melt on impact with the ground. These flakes were minute – very dry – and layered-up quickly, one on top of another; until the world was, by degrees, turned magical. I find myself, often, stood at the kitchen window, caught, transfixed by snow; then shake my head and move on, to that which must be attended to – only to catch myself some moments later, drawn back again, watching, watching, a corps of micro-ballerinas dressed in white.
After lunch, when the snow had stopped falling, but while there was still plenty of light, we went out snowballing; fathers, with daughters and sons.
That night, as I lay down in bed, rolling my shoulders and balling the duvet to get comfortable, I saw it snow again; this time, indoors. Snow, falling on my face – I saw it, with my eyes open, and, still there, with my eyes closed. And felt it: the kiss of each small flake landing on my cheek; I felt the cold in the breeze. How had it blown in, around the window, and made it across the room without melting on the air, to land on my face?
It wasn’t there; not in a physical sense. And yet, I saw it with my eyes, and felt it on my skin. Something unphysical was registered by my senses. A waking vision, of snow. The ‘real’ snow, of earlier in the day, had burnt its image on my retinas; its presence on my nerve-endings.
We do not see, innocently, what is there; but what has left its imprint on us.