“The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below”.
Clement Moore is usually credited with writing that (although I have seen it attributed to Henry Livingston Jr.) in the famous poem, “A Visit from Saint Nicholas.”
I have a conundrum in the secondary meaning of the word, an intricate and difficult problem. It’s a conundrum because I hate being cold and I love new-fallen snow. Since snow is ice, you can see how this could be difficult.
Moore or Livingston was right about that lustre, although today its generally spelled luster. Snow’s reflective qualities make a nighttime walk an entirely new experience. People stay home when it snows, so even if it didn’t have acoustic qualities, a heavy snow storm would quiet things down. It does have sound-dampening qualities though. Snow (unless accompanied by gale force wind) slows things down and quiets them down too. Plus, it changes the look of everything and covers up some mundane or dingy things entirely. A good snow storm is just plain pretty.
And if it happens overnight on Thursday or Sunday, it creates an unexpected three-day weekend for a lot of folks. What’s better than that?
Of course, there’s a downside. I heard on TV this morning that snow-removal costs New York City a million dollars an inch. So, heavier than usual snow is a budget buster for local governments. In fact, in New York State, it’s legal to issue bonds to pay unanticipated and unbudgeted snow removal. Usually, you borrow money for things that last longer than the term of the loan, not things that melt within a week. This weekend’s snow storm came at a very good time for the public works department in the village where I live. Yesterday was the first day of a new fiscal year, so this snow storm didn’t blow this municipal budget.
There are people who think former New York Mayor John Lindsay might have become President of the United States if he and his administration had been able to handle a huge snow storm in February of 1969. Another public official had a more sanguine approach. Faced with a snow storm too big for the public works equipment to handle, former Nassau County Executive Francis T. Purcell said, “Snow melts.”
Of course, there’s the getting-your-car-stuck-in-it thing which leads to the shoveling-it thing. I spent many years shoveling it for a living, but by “it” I don’t mean snow.