Friday, February 25, 2011

Many Words For Snow

Wikipedia informs me that the notion that Eskimos have several dozen words for snow is a degrading myth that ignores the diversity of tribes and the structure of languages designated by the coarse label "Eskimo."

When I lived in Maryland, I had only a couple of words for snow--"light snow," and "stops-all-traffic snow." (There wasn't a lot of difference between the two.)  Now, after six years in Vermont, I can make up for whatever the Eskimos and their languages have left unsaid.

There is big-flake-plopping-down snow, and tiny-flake-making-swishing-noise snow.

There is all-gone-by-morning snow, and stays-on-forever snow (the kind we've got right now).  And drives-the-parents-crazy snow, when school is cancelled yet again.

Outlines-every-branch-and-twig snow is beautiful, even in will-Spring-ever-get-here Moon (late February).  On the other hand, rots-by-the-roadside-gray snow turns your winter-weary stomach.

As the days grow longer, we get melts-and-turns-to-ice snow, which forces me to shuffle down the driveway like a nursing-home resident.
 
And if the temperature is just right, we get snowballs-on-Bisou's-feathers snow, which form in thirty seconds and take ten minutes to melt with the hairdryer on Low.

Finally, there is spinach-planting snow, which comes just as the supermarkets and hardware stores put up their racks of seed packets.  Get your trusty planting stick, drive the eyelash-thick seeds into the white stuff, and I guarantee that you'll be eating fresh greens in April.  (Also known as sanity-saving snow.)

6 comments :

  1. right now we have goddammit-it-it's-snowing-again snow.

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  2. I was going to beg for April spinach, but I'm laughing too hard at Laurie's comment.

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  3. Another fascinating winter post. You (and IB) provide a little window into another world for me.

    Where I live there is "once-in-ten-years" snow, and "snow-that-stayed-on-the-ground-overnight snow."

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  4. Snowed again this morning, a words-fail-me snow.

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  5. Most desolate of all: my-coworkers-are-all-vacationing-in-the-tropics snow, which shows up around the same time as the rotting gray snow along the roads.

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  6. I've always had doubts about those winter escapes. You have a week of sun and warmth, then you come back and what, go into shock? Besides, they miss the joys of watching the days lengthen, minute by minute, in spite of blizzards and "wintry mixes."

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