Sunday, December 13, 2009


Inexhaustible Whiteness

Joseph Wood Krutch, The Twelve Seasons: A Perpetual Calendar for the Country ("December"):
That from the sky itself this inexhaustible whiteness should descend, often gently but always relentlessly, until the earth has been transformed on a scale that the boldest of engineers would not dream of attempting to imitate! That in one night more cubic yards should be laid down than were moved in the years when the Panama Canal was a-building! We awake to find that the whole visible world has been regraded and landscaped anew. But so neatly as well as so grandly, too! Where is the mess that our operations always involve, where the rubbish and the disorder? Every detail is finished. There is not a curve not graceful, not a form not pleasing.

Only yesterday this miracle was promised for New England. The daily papers said merely: "Tonight—snow." And when I looked out of the window this morning I wondered if such a masterpiece of understatement had, on any other occasion, ever been achieved by journalism. "MAYOR DENOUNCES HIS OPPONENTS," "THRILLING GANG FILM AT THE COLISEUM," "HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT WILL WIDEN CHESTNUT STREET" ... and then: "Tonight—snow." I am sure that The Daily Universe, wherever it may be published, would estimate differently how much display each of these stories was worth.


Dirt itself is not so cheap as snow and very far from being so impermanent. Snow is made tonight to be dissolved into water again next month, or perhaps even next day. And yet each individual grain, billions upon billions upon billions of them, is finished perfectly as one or another of the hundreds of different six-pointed stars; as though each, instead of being piled in unnoticed, uncounted heaps, had been formed for the careful eye of some connoisseur with a lens. Surely there is nothing else in Nature which demonstrates more abundantly her profusion, the careless extravagance of her inexhaustible ability endlessly to create the beautiful.
Andrew Wyeth, Not Plowed

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