Updated: Jan 11, 2021
The snowflake icon appeared all night on my weather app. Yet the windows opened only to rain, no white in sight. Same thing this morning…until I looked up. Sprinkled across the crest of the mountains behind us was quite a bit of new-fallen snow. Delightful!
The sun shines through the cold as it does so often here in winter. The trees directly out my window rise and jut into the sky, sparkling with tiny rain droplets. Breathtaking. I'll try to capture this in photos and later with watercolor, but I'm certain they won't fully duplicate the loveliness of the original, natural version.
Had I not looked up, I would have missed the snowy tree-topped mountain summit. Had I not sat and contemplated what to write here, looking out my window, I would have missed the twinkling raindrops, hanging on bare brown branches like so many new year's ornaments. Slowing down and truly seeing beauty lifts our spirits and strengthens our souls. Deep breath…ah!
Snow does not come to St. Hippolyte du Fort every year. Sometimes a few flakes, sometimes none at all. But every once in a while, we get a good downfall. The last time we had a fair amount, the kind that actually sticks, was in 2018. It was unusual to have several feet come down overnight and then stay on the ground. Some of the staff and students in our international training center here had never seen snow at all! What a joy to experience their giddy delight. And then dodge the never-ending snowballs.
Staff and students from Madagascar, New Caledonia and southern India
Our dog, Snicket, was not too keen on it and had to be coaxed with extra dog treats to go out and "do her business." She eventually got used to it, as long as we kept moving.
We had very little snow when we lived in Paris years ago. One year, however, a storm left several inches on the ground for about a day. The brightly colored play structures in the park across the street from our apartment were frosted white, while the trees and bushes appeared to have been sprinkled with powdered sugar. My children loved scraping together a scraggly snowman in front of our building. I tried not to think about the filthy sidewalk underneath.
I love how snow literally changes the aspect of everything it covers. Colors are muted, edges softened, shapes mimicked. Perspective is changed; we're stretched as we see ordinary, every day things differently. I think that's always a good thing.
I also appreciate the quiet hush snow brings, both when coming down and after as it blankets the earth. Unlike the patter of rain, it falls silently; all other sounds are muffled or extinguished. Peaceful and pristine. Jesus said he came to wash our hearts of all that is wrong, to make us "pure as snow." A gift of inestimable value. A vast relief if we chose to let him in. Safe and secure now and for eternity.
Snow sparkles. Tiny glittering, gleaming crystals reflect and refract sunlight. It surprises me every time. Each flake unique, unlike any other. Same same but different as they say in Thailand. Like us humans.
Like many others in the south of France, our town isn't well equipped to deal with snow and ice. Everything pretty much comes to a standstill. Shops close, children stay home from school, driving is limited. In the past this was a cause for excitement and some mild complaining. How sadly familiar that all sounds now.
Icy ground causes us to walk with caution, cling to banisters, and drive with extra care. It feels precarious, as does much of life these days. When we take a moment to pause, lifting our eyes to the mountains, we remember that our help comes from above, from the maker of heaven and earth.
When focus in, and be present to what is around us, we are blessed by beauty. It is there for us to behold.
La vie est belle!