I love snow piles because their changing shapes and volumes are fun to sketch. They are also, even in the dead of winter, a reminder that spring is coming.
This winter I wasn’t able to sketch as many snow piles as usual, but as spring came on and the odd 70 degree day (followed by below freezing days) came and went the piles started to change. I was possessed with an urgency to sketch at least one. (I think I got three snow pile sketches done this year.)
Of course by the time I started we were getting little in the way of new snow, so the piles were melting, collapsing on themselves, and also splashed by salty water from cars driving by. Peaks had started to curl and form crenelated tops. The crystalline structure of entire piles took on a thawed and refrozen transparency signaling the brittle structure remaining. Pools of melt water collected around the islands of ice. Dirt from the roadway, splattered there or incorporated when the original shoveling was done, coated the once white structures. The dark dirt absorbed the heat and burrowed into the snow piles leaving them pock-marked.
All of that was more than I could capture in a quick five minute sketch, but the sketch reminds me of all this when I look at it. I remember too how it was not cold, but warm on this day, and having picked up what I needed at the CVS I opened the hatchback door on the Suburu and sat under its shade, legs swinging, not touching the ground, and drew this snow pile.
It was a stop in the middle of a busy day. A pause to reflect about the winter that was ending and anticipate the full arrival of spring, the clear roads, and of course bicycling.
Melting snow piles always making me so happy. They signal my freedom from the indoor bike. They promise a change in the air. But even in their incredible decrepitude they are beautiful, Their wet surface glints in the sun.
Most of all snow piles remind me to stop and take a break from all the rushing about a full day often requires.