Yesterday, the snow had not yet begun to melt. The cold snap that began in the middle of January seemed as though it might last forever. I made pumpernickel rye bread, darkening the dough with black cocoa and potatoes with purple flesh that turned deep blue when cooked. While the dough was rising, I circled the farm on snowshoes, looking at the shadows on the snow.
My parents once spent a few months in Peru, where they were astonished to encounter potatoes of every imaginable color and flavor. Unfortunately, yesterday’s blue mashed potatoes didn’t taste anything out of the ordinary. I saved most of them for the main course — the most unearthly looking shepherd’s pie you’ve ever seen.
Yesterday, the snow still shone with deceptive purity. There’d been no melting to release the grains of atmospheric dust, pollen, or volcanic ash from their crystal prisons and concentrate them in a thin layer of grime on the surface of the snowpack.
Mongolia, we might be eating your dust every time it snows. We tilt our heads back and catch the flakes on our tongues, imaging the taste of distant steppes and blue mountains.
But sometimes all we get is sleet. Tell the Khan’s horsemen to ride harder.