The first snow of the year comes with anticipation. By the time the first flakes can reach the outstretched tongue of a child, the annuals have long since died and the perennials gone dormant. The leaves have lost most of their color becoming a gray carpet that periodically crunches underfoot. Broken branches are scattered waiting to be gathered as kindling. And there is little scent of the outdoors as the cold has captured and locked any vapors from escaping. Instead, there is a freshness in the air that tickles your nose in anticipation.
The flurries that arrive in the evening appear magically, emerging from a black background. Each has its own shape and trajectory as they emerge in a shotgun pattern without harm. When one hits your cheek you are stung by the cold, which dissipates as does the flake leaving a tiny drop of water.
Soon the ground is coated and peers up with a clean and pure whiteness that cannot be maintained. Once the flurries stop, the wind brushes it off the branches, the birds and squirrels mar its finish with their feet and the dog discolors it with a quick run from the inside of the house.