On snow drifts

Snow drifts are silent frozen sentinels that stand guard at the gates of winter. Mother Nature, and her helper, the North Wind, work tirelessly throughout winter to sculpt these waves, frozen in time and space until the sun comes out in March. Drifts clog driveways, block up doors and windows, and turn short cuts into dead-ends. Built out of the fluid dynamics of blowing snow, drifts grow in the wake of falling snow, a function of wind and the obstacles the wind and snow encounter. Most of the time you can stand back and just admire the strange fractal art of these strange white waves that don’t move, but a big drift is also a brick wall that must be dismantled if the sidewalk is to be cleared or the driveway made passable. Drifts are made of packed snow which is a whole other animal and bears little resemblance to the white fluffy stuff that gently falls in the woods at the end of the day. Snow drifts are both elegant and beautiful, and at the same time, they are deadly and malevolent. You can’t break through with your car without hurting yourself and hanging up your vehicle. Snow drifts are silent car traps that can hang up the sturdiest four-wheel-drive and leave it with its wheels spinning. The snow is as tough as steel and as delicate as lace. And when the sun comes out, it begins to shrink like the Wicked Witch of the West. Drifts are ephemeral, three-dimensional, chaotic, unpredictable. Drifts are what remind us that we are not in control–never were in the first place.