Children love “snow days.” Adults should, too.
After all, what’s a traditional Rappahannock winter for if not snow? The minor inconveniences experienced earlier this week due to road conditions and closings seem, on balance, small sacrifice for the beauty (and transcendental truths) that came with this February snowfall.
In this — as in so many other ways — Rappahannock County seems blessed. Not too much snow, as with almost 100 inches accompanying a record number of blizzards and wicked cold in New England this winter. And not too little, as Out West, where unusual warmth and the resultant lack of snow mean not only a disastrous ski season but also continued drought conditions, when the melting snowpack come spring will be insufficient to replenish streams and groundwater.
But to jolt us from becoming too self-satisfied in our blessedness, the so-called Arctic Vortex has, as it did last year, dipped much further south than has historically been the norm — turning East Coast temperatures Alaska-like, and vice versa. Often counter-intuitive are the weather consequences of climate change.
But it should never be too cold to go outside, no matter how briefly, so to enjoy the fleeting gift of snow. Draping the rolling landscape to reveal its contours in unexpected ways, the pure whiteness also seems as if it’s covering up our past mistakes, giving us a chance to start over again. I can’t help but be reminded of the old-fashioned, bottled “whiteout” whose brush strokes would magically make typewritten typos disappear.
Having the Shenandoah National Park available for winter explorations is another way we’re blessed. “Winter is an amazing time to visit,” says Superintendent Jim Northup. “Trails are quiet, hidden landscapes reveal themselves, and crisp, cold air makes for outstanding views.”