How to Look at Snow

This piece is a lipogram in which I did not use the letter E (do a Ctrl-F if you don’t believe me). It was immensely challenging, but I had a fun time writing it. Enjoy.

  Nothing can approach that first sighting of snow falling softly from a calm gray sky. Racing to my window and taking a good long look, visions of snowballs and toboggans and igloos flash through my mind. I am struck by a familiar youthful thrill. But I also think of walking through snowy woods. So I grab my stuff and go out.

Road lamps cast a glow, gold light diffusing warmly against a dark bluish background. Distant things sound faint. My boots crunch. Pausing, I pick up a soft but distinct sound, hard to put into words. Possibly how a thousand tiny crystal shards would sound colliding — a soothing, glassy tingling, akin to rhythmic rain. Withdrawn into isolation, I walk, not minding how cold it is. Soon, though, it turns into a raging blizzard of furious winds and blinding snow. I hurry back and as I rush in, I am struck by a familiar air: an aroma of smoky wood, a crackling of burning logs. Only during a snowstorm is this so inviting. A cup of hot cocoa awaits and I top it off with big marshmallows.

Sipping, I watch as snow’s sublimity transforms my world; all physical flaws vanish — no footprints, no sign of dirt; only a minimalistic fantasy. A blank canvas, full of possibility. And this, I think, is how all should look at snow.

But most don’t look at it this way. To many, snow is that awful stuff that sticks to scarfs and hats and hair, that stings skin, that drifts and blows around annoyingly; a cold dust that afflicts us in months around January. Moms and dads and various adults moan about how snow ruins roads, forming hazardous traps that all of us must unavoidably confront. Driving to work or school, typically quotidian, turns into an awful affair — traffic, plow trucks, and a slurry of salt, slush, and snow. Catching such words, I always think, How sad, to think if that’s all snow is. Having grown up in a Boston suburb, I’m fairly familiar with all things having to do with snow. Snow practically accounts for half of my childhood joy, a joy that I will not outgrow. So, naturally, I think that a man who knows only how to complain about snow is dogmatic and lacks a youthful outlook that savors snow for its fun and its bright and shining charm. Such a man is missing out on what’s important about snow — its magic. And that day that my school was caught amidst an abrupt snowstorm was nothing short of magical.

What a vivid sight — gothic archways, courtyards normally grassy, and old oaks showcasing a grand snowy cap. At midnight, vast crowds flock to Old Campus, lit by lamplight. Small groups form and soon, total chaos bursts out. A thousand kids frolic in snow on a Monday night, choosing fun and punting work. Snowballs fly this way and that. Occasionally, amidst raucous laughs and joyous shouts, a satisfying thud sounds; a good shot found its mark.

Panting, I go back to my dorm, worn out by our wintry fight. Collapsing on my chair, blood still pumping fast, I look out of my window, gazing out at snow dancing around a lamplight’s halo. I am calm again, happy, and I think: Thank god for snow.

Tagged under Essays, Featured