A clean slate

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In response to the new Wisconsin season, the bitterly cold weather and typical clumsy slips because of our icy streets, I propose a new look at our snowflake troublemakers.

My frosted window this morning showed white flurries outside had kindly settled on many rooftops, tree branches, bicycles abandoned on a rack outside, cars that parked on the busy street with the cold asphalt below them, a late-night littered empty Ian’s pizza box and a shriveled banana peel. I would consider this, our first actual snowfall of the season.

And sometimes this first snowfall is referred to as a blanket, or “a heavy blanket on the outdoors (Cambria Hebert, Whiteout),” or Nevada town headline, “Snow blankets foothill communities.” But as the snow was crunching beneath my boots on my way to a meeting, I thought differently about this “blanket.”

The first snow should instead be a crisp, white sheet of paper. The obvious connection is that everything is white after a snowfall. But the first snow is a clean slate that hides any previous mistakes, like that horribly littered pizza box and the forgotten banana peel. Soon enough, these items outside will be covered completely and buried within their surroundings, just as a previous thought is replaced by a different sheet of paper.

But just as a sheet of paper, it does not take long before someone must make their mark and press into the snow with a black boot, or black ink on paper.

Every doodle on paper removes you further from that fresh, clean beginning and in the case of a snowfall, soon there will be “erase marks” from car tires on the street, “ink residue” on the curbs and “writing” on the sidewalk from too many foot prints.

Unlike the sheet of paper though, we have to live with the grey slush for months after the first snowfall. And whether the snow is a “blanket,” or “sheet,” it is beautiful when untouched, but only lasts for a mere moment just waiting for the first mark, or footprint.

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