Wikipedia informs me that the notion that Eskimos have several dozen words for snow is a degrading myth that ignores the diversity of tribes and the structure of languages designated by the coarse label \”Eskimo.\”
When I lived in Maryland, I had only a couple of words for snow–\”light snow,\” and \”stops-all-traffic snow.\” (There wasn\’t a lot of difference between the two.) Now, after six years in Vermont, I can make up for whatever the Eskimos and their languages have left unsaid.
There is big-flake-plopping-down snow, and tiny-flake-making-swishing-noise snow.
There is all-gone-by-morning snow, and stays-on-forever snow (the kind we\’ve got right now). And drives-the-parents-crazy snow, when school is cancelled yet again.
Outlines-every-branch-and-twig snow is beautiful, even in will-Spring-ever-get-here Moon (late February). On the other hand, rots-by-the-roadside-gray snow turns your winter-weary stomach.
As the days grow longer, we get melts-and-turns-to-ice snow, which forces me to shuffle down the driveway like a nursing-home resident.
And if the temperature is just right, we get snowballs-on-Bisou\’s-feathers snow, which form in thirty seconds and take ten minutes to melt with the hairdryer on Low.
Finally, there is spinach-planting snow, which comes just as the supermarkets and hardware stores put up their racks of seed packets. Get your trusty planting stick, drive the eyelash-thick seeds into the white stuff, and I guarantee that you\’ll be eating fresh greens in April. (Also known as sanity-saving snow.)