Magical Winter Fragrance

Winter Landscape

Magical Winter Fragrance by Augustus Larned

But still the snow never seems quite natural. We tire of it sooner than of some other phases of nature. When it is falling in bridal fleece and veil, its exquisite charm holds us captive, its purity leads us to think of heaven, though why heaven should be a vision in cold and spotless white we cannot tell. We dream of angels and saints and the children of the blessed. But, if it remain weeks and months, turning to marble blocks, squeaking and grinding under runners, sending the snow chill to the tips of toes and down the sensitive spine, then we are more than ready to greet the first bud and leaf or spear of grass almost with tears of gladness. Then the brown earth seems our congener, our old familiar gossip and friend. The white world ever remains a little remote and ghostly, scarce an intimate, unless we can subdue it by our energy and pluck. It is good to get out and wade when the dainty down quilt is still untouched by the least speck of soilure, to note the ripples and markings of delicate wave work on the uplands, the low relief sculpture of the storm, fit to instruct artists in the light and graceful touch of the chisel. In those first hours the new fallen snow scatters a fragrance in the air to be compared with wafts from a rose garden. It is so delicate and dainty, we are half intoxicated by its perfume. Whence does it come? By what alembic is it distilled? The scientists have not revealed to us the secret. The spruces and pines andhemlocks and cedars, with their loaded boughs, have perhaps made us the present of this winter fragrance. We dream of great stretches of evergreen forests in their dim spectral loveliness, of the majesty of great snow plains, of mountains crowding the horizon, shouldering each other in their glittering robes, with shadows of mauve and blue and purple of unearthly softness and depth.
Then winter, the old magician and wonder worker, appears as the creator of the vigor and strength of races, of nations. Its stern demands have been the training school of our civilization. Its deprivations, hardships, and bluff embraces must count among the foremost of those beneficent conditions which give a blessing wrung from them in combat, such as Jacob compelled the angel to yield.