Every winter I’ve looked forward to it.
And despite knowing it would arrive, its beauty always has surprised me.
On day, I look up from a story I’m at work on, and there it is.
Seeing the season’s first snowfall from the third floor of the Springfield News-Sun building has been a special part of my Christmas season for 35 years.
The scene that unfolds in front of me is like Christmas card that, though similar each year, never gets old.
The reason is the backdrop.
Just across Limestone Street from the News-Sun Building sits handsome Covenant Presbyterian Church.
Through the windows on the west side of the newsroom, the terra cotta tiles of Covenant’s sloping roof are beautiful, and the elevated angle makes them a bigger part of the scene than it is for people on street level.
The mosaic of color the tiles create is set off, is heightened, by the church’s contrasting gray stone facing.
That’s true at any time of year, of course.
So the blue of a summer sky seems all the more blue behind it, and gathering storm clouds of spring and fall all the more dramatic.
But when the building provides the backdrop for a snowfall, my eyes can’t get enough.
The result is a season’s greeting whose poetry is provided not by an arrangement of words in verse but something more like music, as flakes of snow float on the air like notes on a sheet of music.
Depending on the atmosphere, the flakes fall heavy, wet and ponderous; chase one another in a flurry of wind; or fall so granular, fine and dry that when they land, the wind sweeps them across the street like frozen sand over a concrete desert.
In all but the last variation, the result is a kind of living Currier and Ives scene.
On the one hand, the mood it creates brings to mind the jingling of sleigh bells and feeling of a flake alighting on eyelashes. But the snow’s ability to dampen sound manages something deeper and more profound — the expectant feeling of a silent night.
I’m sure I’ll have leave in the years to come to climb the stairs of the News-Sun building to watch a snowfall.
But a week ago Friday, when I turned in my building pass and my status shifted from full timer to mostly retired, it was one of the things I knew I’d miss.
Like the first snowfall, I knew retirement, too, would come, and I didn’t know when. Then I looked up, and here it was.
It feels right.
Technology has created its own wind of change, buffeting newspapers and reconfiguring them in a way that would seem more startling, save that the same thing seems afoot in almost every business and walk of life.
I’ll be happy to continue to play a smaller part here, as I explore what other ways I might contribute to the community I’ve grown to know over the past 35 Christmases.
And as much as I’ve enjoyed the view from the newsroom, it will be interesting for me to change points of view — to look at the community from other angles and to start not from a desk on the third floor of the newspaper, but by simply walking out my front door.
Meet me back here, and I’ll tell you what I find.