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He taught you everything you know about snow. You know it’s frozen
vapour, watery particles congealed into crystals that fall to earth. You
know it’s formed in the air when the temperature of the atmosphere
sinks below freezing-point, that the minute crystals of ice form flakes
which present countless modifications of the hexagonal system. You
know these crystals adhere together and form irregular clusters, and
that the incident rays of light which are refracted and reflected to
present individually the prismatic colours, are scattered after reflection
and combine to give the colour sensation of white. It was years before
you realised that this meant snow lies.
In the years you spent together it only snowed twice. The first time,
you woke and knew it was there even before you’d looked out of the
window – something about the light, flat and shadowy. And sound was
flattened too, the cloak of snow muffling everything from birdsong to
car engines. Neither of you wanted to shovel the drive, preferred to
leave the drifts undisturbed. When you had to go out you played a
game of walking in each other’s footsteps. You liked the look of a single
track leading to and from the lane. You made a snow-rabbit together.
The second time there was only a skinny crust of the stuff. The
gravel on the drive poked through as soon as you stepped on it. By the
next day it was a tide of brown slush, by the day after, it only looked
like it had rained.
It wasn’t the snow’s fault, you’re not blaming it, and you don’t want to
bestow it with symbolic significance. It’s only that you can’t think of
him now without thinking about snow. About the snow-rabbit. How
for weeks you watched its slow escape into the melt.