The Snow Child

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Snow Child

Perhaps it is simply the light, one no other season can claim. A light that boldly pierces the windowpanes to paint razor-sharp runes on the kitchen wall. A light that boomerangs off the blanket of snow, brighter than the sun itself.

Or maybe it is only the fragrance. Filling the crystal air with the wild scent of ice and hemlock, cinnamon and pine, it comes to me as the memory of an old friend whenever I bury my face in Edward’s cold fur during a romp in the early hours of a January morning.

It is there in the boreal moon that hangs low over the tops of the bare naked trees.

In the emerald madness of the northern lights.

And in the snow.

Always in the snow.

Drifting down through the dark woods at midnight or resting on my eyelashes during an afternoon walk.

It has a magic that Springtime knows nothing about.

A mystery denied to the fall.

It is winter and, for me, it has always been the most delicious season of them all.

Edward and I have been denied a true winter this year, temperatures rarely dipping low enough to excite us, wind that has refused to properly howl. A much more salubrious climate than summer, to be sure, but a bit of a disappointment nonetheless. Perhaps this was the reason I was drawn to this title on a prowl through a bookshop last week. The Snow Child. With its frost white cover of a little girl and a fox peering out at me from behind bare trees, this book ensnared my eye as soon as I walked in. I reached for it instinctively and purchased it at once. Perhaps you’ll think me mad, but some books are like that. They call to me. I seem to recognize their covers. Their size and weight just feel at home in my hands, as though every single word, not one less nor one more, adds up to something written especially for me. This was such a book.

I carried The Snow Child home and made myself wait to open it until I could snuggle down in bed with Edward’s big head resting on my tummy. And just as I suspected, it was all there. All the magic of winter that I had missed these last months. All the mystery. All the beauty. All found in this story of a little girl with white blonde hair, darting through an Alaskan forest - a flash of blue eyes in the sunlight, a snippet of colour in snow.

I am reluctant to tell too much about The Snow Child lest I spoil someone’s personal discovery of its delightful power to bewitch the imagination. I will say that the first time author, Eowyn Ivey, has captured a story on these pages that should rightfully become a classic. Born and raised in the Alaska she writes of, every word simply sings with authenticity and unique creativity.

I have been to Alaska in January and driven a dog sled through the forested wilderness, an experience that shall never leave my memory. I recall gazing into the first line of fir trees that stood sentry over the dark woods all around me as the dogs stamped and jostled, ready to run. Without being told, I knew this forest was unlike the ones I lived with at home. Behind those laced limbs of green were secrets I could never hope to decipher, ancient, other-worldly, and more than a bit unsettling. If only I had stared a bit longer, allowed my eyes to push past the green guardians and glimpse the icy kingdom inside, who can say what wonders I would have found. Instead, feeling the chill of mystery, I called out to the dogs and they spirited me away in the wind. Now, through The Snow Child, I know a bit more about what could have been mine to discover if only I had waited around a bit longer.

You simply must read this book!