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The first snowfall is felt as well as heard, the tiny patter of bits of ice

tapping against the bare tin sheet that makes up the roof of the back porch

the sound of its weight as the first volley lands in a blanket on the deck out back.

This first snowfall is always “snow,” there’s no need to call it anything else

whether it’s welcome or reviled. As the months go on

it becomes harder to explain the weather to one not completely immersed in it

that “snow” doesn’t mean the same thing depending on the temperature

that there are different consistencies to fresh snow, like the soft, sticky snow

that comes in March, perfect for snowball fights and snow angels

or the blinding clouds of tiny, hard pellets, blown sideways by the wind

when the air is so cold it hurts to breathe.  These two things are called snow

but they are not the same. They are as different

as mist and rainfall, the morning dew and a tropical storm.

And what should we call this? I ask my daughter

as we stand at the bus stop on a frigid January morning, the dog huddled at my feet

ready to go inside already. The air around us glints with tiny bits of glitter

that melt before they even reach our skin. The sky is filled with crystalline motes

that hover in the air, catching the sun. But this, too, is snow, somehow.

There’s no other word to explain what else it could be.

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