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Ramble with Storm: Snow pellets to William Carlos Williams

Mulling things on my morning ramble

with Storm, the family’s mixed Lab.

This morning, I rather proudly pushed myself, and to a lesser extent, the meathead, into our usual route around the town pond for the first time since the Blizzard of 2011.

I say to a lesser extent because I didn’t have to push the meathead. He loves this stuff, ripping into the snow drifts with glee. And I don’t mean the television show that makes me want to stick my finger in my eyes, I mean the noun.

Circling the town pond felt ground-breaking, make that drift-breaking, to make the usual complete trek.

And to my great pleasure (I am easy to please), mine were the first footprints on the back side of the town pond.

I put my prints down over the tracks of rabbit, squirrel and mouse tracks.

The heavy, wind-compacted drifts shut down most other movement of life.

Even the lone dove wasn’t in the trees below the old rail trail.

Back in town, doves were spread around town. I am sure they figured out it was easier to feed at bird feeders than try to scrounge waste grain or wild seeds beneath a foot of snow.

As we finished, snow pellets began falling.

American English is inadequate when it comes to frozen precipitation.

Sleet, freezing rain, wet snow, dry snow and snow pellets don’t capture the fullness of our frozen precipitation.

Language fails too often.

These snow pellets were cubes of hard snow. Not flakes in any sense at all. They looked like mini hay bales of snow.

Hard, compacted snow.

I can’t think of a better word for it than snow pellet, other than maybe snow bale.

Apparently, we just missed another snow event.

As a weather geek, I was checking around today and saw Champaign picked up a fresh 4 inches in spots this morning.

What a year.

I stick with Blizzard of 2011 because the made-up words I have heard so far fail to capture the experience any better than Blizzard of 2011.

There’s value in plain speaking.

Since the snow piled up, a female cardinal has become our regular at our porch feeder. Female cardinals are not nearly as gaudy as the males, but there is something subtly wonderful about their crest and queiter brownish color.

It reminds me of a section in William Carlos Williams’s too-long epic Paterson:

She stopped

me in my tracks–until I saw

her disappear in the crowd.

An inconspicuous decoration

made of sombre cloth, meant

I think to be a flower, was

pinned flat to her

right breast–

any woman might have

done the same to

say she was a woman and warn

us of her mood.

Otherwise she was dressed in male attire,

as much as to say to hell with you.

Her expression was serious,

her feet were small.

And she was gone!

That’s writing plain, but perfect.