It's 4:03am on this brisk Saturday morning of February the sixth in the small township of McCandless, PA. Tonight as usual I sit with trusty laptop in hand seeking some divine inspiration to write, my fingers lie still on the keyboard awaiting their first instructions. With my Word document open I stare intently at the blank page and a blinking cursor that seems to rhythm the beating of a heart. It's strangely silent these early mornings, but it's my favorite time. They are tranquil and make me feel most at peace. I am a night owl by nature and there are many like me, those returning from the graveyard shift or a long night out on the town, insomniacs, newborn babies crying to be fed, but something about this night would be different. No traffic can be heard on this usually busy street where I live. Suddenly, I hear the rough sound of wet tires spinning shrilly but seeming going nowhere. I can see through my partially open blinds flashes of PENNDOT lights flickering outside my seven foot tall picture windows. Outside bright white mounds of snow blanket my town like a thick layer of fluffy marshmallow that sticks to every surface I see and strangely illuminates the night sky with an iridescent glow.
I like this view through my living room windows. I can see the traffic lights at the intersection on my corner cycle through their continuous colors of red, yellow, and green as if they're sensing phantom cars and trucks and the bright lights of the Sheetz gas station's empty parking lot. However, dawn is approaching quickly. Plow trucks emerge and arm themselves with defenses of rock salt and tire chains like an army waiting to wage war. I see a plows sharpened blade brush through the first layer of snowfall making a massive snow peak on the roadside and in neighboring parking lots the kind of snow peaks that only springtime can thaw. In a month they will still stand ever so slowly diminishing covered in the soot that busy lives leave behind. Then a plows backup lights and horn beep three times signaling to anyone behind them to clear away there is work to be done. Here in my small neighborhood early risers wake to see what nature chose to gift to them this night. Steaming cups of coffee in hand and the dread of the shovel and its back breaking labor weigh heavy on their minds. So tempted to wait out the storm, but hospitals need their nurses and stores need clerks and our mail must go through.
The unlucky Saturday morning commuters line up outside my window patiently waiting for the traffic light to change. Their faces tell of exhaustion from the morning of work that the night of snowfall has created. I can see Sheetz is starting to buzz with drowsy customers needing a strong coffee and a fresh glazed donut. Some others are standing outside pumping gas jumping up and down, breathing into cupped hands trying to get warm. Delivery drivers unpack cartons of much needed supplies. The small wheels of their dollies loaded with the essentials of milk and eggs and bread barely make onto the freshly shoveled sidewalk of the store front.
The snow hasn't stopped yet. The wind is blowing violently in all directions making swirls of snowflakes appear to dance to their own silent song. I have seen blizzards like this before in my hometown of Johnstown,PA but not here in big bad Pittsburgh,PA. It's a welcoming sight. It makes me think of home, of family. Speaking with my parents last night I was glad to hear that all my family were home and safe. We talked over the week's events and the present storm. My mom talked of helping two young girls whose car spun on a snow covered road, went over an embankment and hit a tree. Thankfully both girls emerged uninjured from the driver's side only available open door. My mother waited with them until help arrived. I didn't say but in my mind I was thankful it wasn't her. What if she left work one minute earlier? What if she didn't have to brush off that last bit of snow from her Jeep's headlight? Why did this storm ever come? Why do we continue to live where snow plagues us three months of the year bringing with it so much damage and grief?
Well, I think it's because when the first snowfall of the year dusts our faces and we look skyward with a smile we welcome it like an old friend returning from a long journey. It's watching children's faces when they finally get bundled up to go outside and create snow angels and make-shift igloos. Its neighbors helping neighbors dig out and lend a hand without complain or reason. It's a good snowball fight no matter what age you are. It's something that not everyone may get to experience in a lifetime. I read a saying somewhere that "Nature is the art of GOD" and we his audience. Our nature can be so unpredictable at times, but it will still go on challenging us and so we will accept its challenge and live on.