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Winter can indeed produce a wonderland

Have you ever seen a prettier snow than the one that fell in the frigid cold on New Year’s Eve eve, starting the eve before?

The snow fluffed on top, in a thick puff, and it sparkled. It caused me to think something I was ashamed of: It looked like that fake mica snow. I hate it when I compare something amazing in nature to its artificial counterpart, when it follows, not precedes, nature. As when something dramatic happens in real life and you say: “It was just like in a movie!”

I tracked the snow in on my snow boots, and it fell off the soles in a perfect whole pancake. It looked like intricately patterned lace, as if it should be picked up and framed, or sewn onto the hem of a skirt. Or like a biscuit that had been made in a German springerle mold.

The snow that falls in such cold weather – it turned out to be 1 1/2 inches that fell in the course of about 21 hours – is different from the snow that falls in higher winter temperatures, meteorologist Vanessa Pearce of the National Weather Service told me.

“The cooler temperatures make it so it’s lighter, and it has a different texture because of the cold temperatures at the surface and aloft,” Pearce said. “Usually if it’s warmer then the snow will be heavier and wetter. But then when the temperatures are much cooler, then it’s lighter and can blow around a lot more and it’s not as heavy. Not necessarily the easiest snow to make snowmen with.”

As I walked through Illuminations at Botanica with some friends on Monday night, it was relatively balmy, because, as one friend pointed out, there was no wind. That makes a huge difference. And when it snows, another friend said gleefully, you forget about the cold for the beauty. That’s how I felt especially on Tuesday, as the snow kept falling. And falling. And falling, along with the temperature. The low for the week was 7 on New Year’s Eve morning.

But was it too cold to fill the bird feeders? In my yard, the birds were congregating around a tube feeder, whose supplies were quickly dwindling, while a covered feeder had been emptied. A new cardinal-red feeder in the shape of a barn, with a cardinal weathervane at the top – a Christmas gift from my sister – was waiting to be inaugurated. How could I sit in the house warm and cozy and enjoy it – or even run off to work (more accurately) – if the bird feeders weren’t full? It was never really a question, just a matter of a few seconds’ hesitation, with some thought given to my toes.

It all left me singing a Christmas song:

When it snows

Ain’t it thrilling

Though your nose gets a chilling

We’ll frolic and play the Eskimo way

Walking in a winter wonderland.

Last weekend, before the temperature tanked, I had taken a walk and marveled at the green blades of grass still poking up here and there in the park. And this week at work, when I went to pencil in a few dates on the 2015 calendar and turned to March, I saw that daylight saving time starts March 8. That’s basically only two months. I think we got this.

Reach Annie Calovich at 316-268-6596 or acalovich@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @anniecalovich.

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