25 February 2013

Beauty Inspires

Beauty around us can inspire wonderful stories. Tucson had a very rare and freakish winter storm last week that deposited snow in the desert. We've had snow now and then but usually it melts in an hour and that's it. Not this time. Two inches fell in the morning, lasted till early afternoon, then at 4:30 that afternoon, huge fat flakes began again.

That's not a snowball, it's one flake falling by a saguaro...
Writers' biggest challenge is how to describe an event or condition in a way that transports the reader into that exact moment. When the snow began that afternoon, fluffs drifted down from a grey-white sky individually, like feathers dropped by a dove as she preens her wing. The flakes grew larger and heavier, soon filling the air in an all-out earthbound attack, besieging  everything in their path. The soft hiss of crystal water particles falling through motionless air to land upon their mates muted every sound as they bound together to smother every tree, cactus, and bush in white frigidity.

There was no visible sunset that evening. Grey day turned to darkness without a hint of color. Yet the snow seemed oddly iridescent without the sun, refracting grey into tiny nuances of blue.

A night-blooming cereus and barrel  cactis mantled in snow. Pricky Pear in the background...
Odd how the snow actually kept the plants from frost damage like the sheets we would have used to cover them. No hard frost bit their arms or burned delicate leaves. The snow lingered through the night into the next morning, laying heavy on palm fronds and willow branches until the sun finally banished the last marauding clouds, welcomed with open arms by saguaro and humans alike.