The snow is falling. Nothing, however, is at all special about this snow. It is not a little. It is certainly not astounding. It will (and should) be forgotten soon after it is a thing of the past. And yet, this kind of underwhelming snow, the kind of snow that would make most Northern Americans yawn, is currently trending on Twitter under the tags: #SeattleSnowpocalypse and #Snowmaggedon2019.
How is this possible? Seattle's imagination is so gripped by its own fear of snow that it has, it seems, become the dominant chatter on the web. Is this not deeply embarrassing? Something to be ashamed about? A whole zebra was frozen to death during last week's polar vortex. How can you beat that? A zebra! From hot Africa. Stuck in some farm in northern Indiana. Where is the fucking sun, it must have thought as it froze to the bone? Now that's trend-worthy. But we in the 206 freak out at any news of snow; the snow itself totally cripples us, we even brag about how much salt we toss on the streets (it's something like a gift from the gods themselves), and, worst of all, we throw a carnival at the opening of a tunnel for cars. What kind of sorry is this?
That said, I want to share some of the best works of art that have concerned snow. This is all I can do in this moment of shame (if you are from out of town, know I have to live, eat, and drink with these snow yokels).
Let's begin with the closing passage of what I consider to be the most perfect short story composed in English, James Joyce's "The Dead":
Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, further westwards, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling too upon every part of the lonely churchyard where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.
And then there is this from near the start of the poem that opens Nabokov's second-best novel Pale Fire:
And from the inside, too, I'd duplicate
Myself, my lamp, an apple on a plate:
Uncurtaining the night, I'd let dark glass
Hang all the furniture above the grass,
And how delightful when a fall of snow
Covered my glimpse of lawn and reached up so
As to make chair and bed exactly stand
Upon that snow, out in that crystal land!
We must never forget this scene sad scene from Citizen Kane:
There is also the wonderfully bad snow scene in The Wiz that features Diana Ross and a dumb dog and a very fake snow tornado:
And how about the excellent dog (it shivers) in the eternally beautiful lines in Fleet Foxes "Blue Ridge Mountains"
In the quivering forest,
Where the shivering dog rests,
Our good grandfather
Built a wooden nest
And the river got frozen,
And the hole got snowed in,
And the yellow moon glowed bright
Till the morning light
Now, just looking at this painting, "Hunters in the Snow (Winter)," by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, makes her cold:
Because we were born in a culture and not a cave, let us end with this Ella Fitzgerald classic: