What is it about the first snow of the season that makes people happy? I realize it doesn't have the same effect on everyone and that some people find it depressing, but I love seeing the first snow. And friends on Facebook are saying things like "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas," and they are expressing disappointment in the mere dusting that fell on middle Ohio overnight. Those people want a full dumping of snow so they can ski or at least not see the grass underneath.
I have seen 47 first snows, but still each one is a treat. It's like the first day you notice the crocuses in spring or the first day the pool is open in the summer or the first day when the trees show off their fall colors. You know it happens every year, but a whole year has gone by since you last saw the thing.
I usually find the passage of time pretty depressing. As it ticks on, it's too easy to dwell on what you haven't got or given and what you haven't done and what little time is left to get, to give and to do. But when it comes to the seasons, there seems to be some sort of reassurance in the continuity. A lot of good and bad can happen in one year, but the world still turns as it always has, and winter brings snow, the same kind of snow I knew as a child when time moved much more slowly.
I get the same feeling of reassurance when I see the big dipper in the sky in June. It hangs directly over my house during the summer year after year after year. And it held that spot hundreds of thousands of years ago. And I have no reason to believe it won't be there next year or the next.
Well, so maybe the happiness the first snow brings to some of us isn't such a mystery after all. It's just part of a giant perpetual calendar, but instead of offering a platitude or funny quote, it gives steadiness mixed with some nostalgia and a little promise.