It is absolutely quiet this morning on the coast of Maine. All of nature lies still beneath an eight-inch blanket of undisturbed snow. It follows the curve of the porch railing, covers the branches of the spruce trees beyond, and literally blankets the earth. It is early still, and there is as yet no footprint on the snow’s surface. It is as if no being wants to break the spell of peace that covers the land. I start to read the newspaper, my early morning ritual. Its reports of violence abroad and political bickerings at home are little changed from yesterday or last week. They seem, at least for now, so distant that they come as an intrusion into this enchanted world. I stop reading. Soon enough, I will go out and shovel the steps and start the car, the town’s plow will break the silence of the street, and people will struggle to get to work and to school.
In some places people are suffering terribly from the cold and snow. “In a cold so biting that exposed fingers quickly start to ache,” wrote Anne Barnard recently in the Times, “Syrian children in plastic sandals trudge through mud and chunks of ice, their tiny feet red from exposure” – while I look out at the gently falling snow from the warmth of my study. Something in me wants this morning to last forever, even as I know that the beauty I see is no answer to the injustice they suffer.