“First Snow,” New York Times editorial, December 23, 1979, by Alex Shoumatoff
At first, the land seemed barren of color, sound, even life. The crows wheeling.in the slate gray sky contributed nothing, nor did the stark, silent trees, devoid of leaf except for the dry shreds rattling on the beeches. Snapping on skis and gliding into an old cornfield, we entered the emptiness of the season’s first snow, and were almost immediately surprised by signs of life. Not an hour ago, to judge from these tracks, a deer had stepped out of the woods and walked straight into this clump of shriveled herbs, which it had nibbled, leaving a confusion of hoof prints and a warm pile of pellets melting into the snow. Now life was flushed by our ski-tips: jumping up from nowhere, a cottontail rabbit ran for the brambles; the eye on this side of its head wide with fright. And with the rediscovery of life, sounds resumed. Frail cheeps of nearby chickadees came to us on the wind, and the muffled rush of traffic reclaimed our ears. Even in the wild places of America it is no longer easy to escape the sound of a car moving in the distance, or to avoid being reminded by it of the time we live in. Nor was the snowscape, on close inspection, really so monochrome. Against the whiteness, the scarlet of barberries stood out like drops of blood spattered on a blank canvas, and the frozen gold buds were quivering on the beaches, waiting for their time.