SAUCIER ENCORE — Continental drift


Meteorologists were cooking up the perfect storm with every ingredient they could find. “Blizzard conditions,” they said, and people ran out to buy up milk and ice-melt.

Kids got off early with a giggly feeling that they wouldn’t be back for days. We checked on the elderly, turned on the news, and hunkered down.

It came, freezing life in its cold fury. Airports shut down, highways closed, and businesses that never locked their doors turned off their lights.

It was doubly difficult for those with no pay, but we had a glimpse of something more.

Even in wintry rage, the storm had a creative eye. An enormous snowflake landed on my jacket sleeve and I could see its delicate fractal arms reaching in all directions, each a mirror of the whole and the intricate essence of every drift and pile.

At the base of the shrubs, the wind cleared a circle of snow like a potter cupping the mouth of a vase. Little bands of snow moved across the top of this moonscape like a swarm of sand flies, leaving wavy scrolls that gave texture and depth to the work.

The blinding snow and the biting wind left a path of precision. A 2-foot pyramid of snow perched on the trash can, a four-sided vestige of an ancient temple.

Snow was blown against the window screen in semi-concentric lines like the map of some dynamic motion. Drifts in the yard had sharp, flowing edges like lines on an algebraic graph.

Snow huddling in the joints on the side of the house, tuck-pointing the brick in white to underscore the simplicity of its design.

For a while, at least, it was all order and beauty.

I’m no fan of winter and my back will ache when this is cleared. Still, there is a part of me thankful for being put in my place. I am reminded that the vibrant, sometimes raging power of nature still trumps our science and convenience.

That, with all the important things we do, the world can live without us for a day or two. That this place is forever wondrous and revealing, if only I take the time to see.

It’s a shame it takes a storm to get my attention.

This reflection was originally published in the Feb. 4, 2011, edition of The Catholic Missourian.