Sacred Snowstorms


Photo courtesy of Lorenzoclick, via Creative Commons.

My grandmother, Dorothy Towey, loved snow. Through her whole life, right up until she died at 94, Grandma D.D. rejoiced when the fat white flakes filled the air. She saw snow as beautiful, and (though she was mostly agnostic), as holy.

In 1994, a few months shy of her 85th birthday, she wrote this letter to the editor of the Danbury News-Times, the paper in her hometown of Danbury, CT. I love my Grandma D.D., and this letter is brilliant, so I’m sharing it here in her memory.

Shouldn’t refer to snow as ‘abominable’

Your handsome Feb. 9 “White Blight” front snow page was a triumph of journalism–the “Winter of our discontent” quote, the neat photo of a car driving between seven- or eight-foot snowdrifts in our 1969 storm which was much more severe than our recent current deluges.

But I beg to differ with you in labeling it “Abominable snow cover.” Of course, many have felt that way when they lost job days (and income, although others made extra income) or when they had auto accidents or severe injuries from falls. But our world has been beautifully white and peacefully quiet.

Calling the snow cover “abominable” is an emotional rather than a reportorial word. It’s like calling the sun or the moon abominable, aspects of nature that cannot be humanized, as it were. It’s like calling the sun abominable when it burns your summer neck or the ocean abominable when it floods a beach.

The forces of nature should be scientifically described, not in our downgrading human language. The sun and the ocean, and the moon, and thunder and lightning, are powerful forces with physical natures way above our feeble human terms.

-Dorothy Towey, Danbury

There’s a strong Pagan streak running through this side of my family. Or maybe Transcendentalist–I think my grandma and Ralph Waldo Emerson looked at nature through a similar lens.

Grandma, every time the snow falls, I think of you, and pause to marvel.