My first thought is sawdust. Or confetti, shredded newsprint, the stuffing from an old chair. The mind fits the unfamiliar into familiar boxes. The sun is shining. Could this be snow? Wait, another flake. Such a feeble fall, I wait. No more than two flakes visible at once. I’m looking west, into the low sun. The drift is lackadaisical, half-hearted falling, a lateral lift, dip, another lift, gone. More verb than noun. Hardy knew it:
“Some flakes have lost their way, and grope back upward when
Meeting those meandering down they turn and descend again.”
It’s over in a minute and I doubt what I’ve seen. No accumulation, nothing to measure, no one to verify the sight. So, has the first snow fallen? I check the weather online: No precipitation reported. An image of horror comes back from the conclusion to Tolstoy’s "Master and Man":
"Vasily Andreich was stiff, like a frozen carcass of meat, and when he was pulled off Nikita his legs were stuck awkwardly apart just as he had placed them. His bulging hawk-like eyes were iced over and under the trimmed moustache his open mouth was packed with snow."
[translated by Paul Foote in Master and Man and Other Stories, Penguin, 2005]