lichenous tree in snowstorm 1

Yesterday morning’s small rain turned into fat snowflakes by mid-afternoon. I went out for a walk with camera and umbrella. Because of the soaking rain that had preceded the snow, the lichens and mosses on the tree trunks were still a vivid green, contrasting nicely with the snow. For an hour and a half, I kept shooting variations of the same photo.

lichenous tree in snowstorm 4

The snow was exceptionally sticky, making for the most picturesque snowfall of the season. Something like six inches fell here. By this morning, even though the wind had scoured the treetops, snow still clung to all the lower branches, getting thicker the closer it got to the ground. If someone from a country without snow had seen this, they might have imagined the ground was mounting an insurrection against the sky, which was as achingly blue as it ever gets in January.

lichenous tree in snowstorm 5

But this is March: the sun is much higher in the sky, and getting warmer as the day goes on, so it’s all turning to mush. A classic onion snow, I’d say, even if the wild onions have barely broken ground. The trees, at least, are sporting that scallion green.

Click on the photos to see larger versions on Flickr.

Onion snow

UPDATE: Apparently, the term “onion snow” isn’t as widely known as I’d thought. Here in Central Pennsylvania, it’s a common expression for an early spring snow that comes right when the onions are sprouting in the garden. The dark green tops of wild onions are also highly visible around field edges at this time (and in centuries past, were mixed with other early greens for a welcome antidote against scurvy).

We also have a term for the occasional, heavy, wet snowfall of mid-April: that’s a sapling-bender.

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An onion snow goes well with tea, I’m told.
But I had it with my coffee; it was all gone by 3:00.

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It melted in the mouths of daffodils, & didn’t even turn their lips blue.

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Snow & a cold wind bring out the blush on the ridgeside.

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Pussy willow & red maple blossoms wear wool caps for a reason, it seems.

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“Abstract expressionism” is such a stupid expression, isn’t it? I mean, if you can picture it, it obviously isn’t abstract.

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I suppose it might be possible to see the world without imposing representations on it. But why would you want to?

Phoebe! says the phoebe. It’s hard to argue with that.