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First Snow, Magic Snow

Author John Cech
Air Date 12/22/1999

First Snow, Magic Snow Transcript

It’s the first day of winter today, the time of the Winter Solstice, the ancient days of Yule, the darkest night of the year. It’s also the perfect time for the first snow to fall. In Russian villages, they collected (and still collect) the snow from the first snowfall, melted it and had it blessed; they used this snow water in medicines and as a balm. My Russian mother-in-law had been cured of headaches as a child by a gypsy woman who placed a compress dipped in this holy snow water on her head and sang to her all night. Throughout her life, even when she lived in Chicago, my mother-in-law would faithfully gather this first snow like something priceless, have it blessed, and bring flasks of it to Florida, where she spent most of the winter with us; she placed a drop or two of this snow water each morning on her failing eyes. Our young daughter watched her do this, wide-eyed, –well, we all did actually–and if lived in a place where it snowed at all, we’d be saving up jars of this elixir today, I’m sure, helping the old ways live on, in our own and our children’s lives–through the things we carry forward from these wise teachers of the imagination.

So in lieu of snowflakes, here’s a poem in her memory–for this first day.

“The first snow of winter”

We ran outside to play,

And made a hundred angels

In the drifts that day.

The first snow is magic,

I heard my grandma say.

And in the night it happened

The hundred angels flew away.

I know because I watched them

As one by one they rose

Up in the quiet moonlight

In their snowy clothes.

The hundred angels gathered

Up in the sky that night,

And made a giant snowflake

In their starry flight.

Next morning all the snowbanks

Were smooth and soft and white

Because our hundred angels

Had swept them overnight.

Posted in Holidays, Poetry