Washington does it.
The act of judging snow on its surface and not its pure essence. Cursing snow without appreciating its worth.
Snow prejudice. Dissing it before it falls. Not giving it a chance to make its presentation.
Washington judges snow on its past. And memories are fragile things, like the snows of yesteryear when the city was paralyzed and it seemed like eternity before the streets were cleared and the mayor-for-life was somewhere in California and the stores ran out of bread and milk.
We forgot about snow's majesty. The cold, melancholy beauty of its stillness. The way it makes things look sugary, like the icing on wedding cakes. That it is clear and white at the same time. Colorless, really.
And that it gives justice, wipes a clean slate for every man. Gives equal opportunity, offers him a chance to walk where no man has walked before.
"We were complaining they plowed the streets and took away the beauty of the snow," says Tim Andersen, 29, a paralegal making a "snow individual" yesterday afternoon in Lafayette Park.
His friend Natasha Blinkova is examining the expression of the "snow individual" and appreciating snow. "Why is everyone so obsessed with snow? It's a great excuse to take off work. That is, as long as you don't mind getting wet, cold and snot-nosed."
Snow, says Blinkova. "It's like a cloud on the ground."
A Cloud on the Ground. Spontaneous poetry spoken from the mouth of a lawyer who has stopped work to play, play like a child, pack another arm on the snow individual and play with his--we mean its--expression.
The snow individual is screaming. Is it agony being created out of a cloud fallen to earth?
"It's the agony of self-expression," the lawyer says.
Playing in snow makes poets.
Andersen stops and listens. There is silence. "The snow makes D.C. so barren." He looks at the snow individual and realizes the creature is ephemeral. Like life.
"He started off as nothing and soon he will be nothing. He will return to his nothingness."
The snow is not the only thing getting too deep.
It is easy to forget the beauty of snow when the last memory of it is being stuck in gridlock, cursing snow, fidgeting with radio dials, searching the car over for any food because dinner is who-knows-how-many hours away at home. The discovery of a half-eaten box of raisins and a water bottle packed for the gym in the back seat makes us think: "All those neat freaks with the spanking-clean cars don't have any crumbs to eat right now." Hah! A victory for pack rats. A small victory. Because they are still stranded.
That's why we curse the word snow.
We forgot how beautiful it is.
And it is easy to forget beauty when it is a threat issued by the weather forecaster. A threat before bed, heavy with forebodings of closings and government liberal-leave policies. Whatever that means.
The reality of snow's beauty doesn't strike until we wake up and the kid cries, "It snowed!!!!" and won't wait to get out of his pajamas and eat oatmeal before diving outside.
Then we realize snow's beauty. Its crispness. And ask for forgiveness for ever having cursed this wonderful stuff, now blanketing ugly streets, covering trash in gutters. We swear we will never discriminate against snow again.
Then we meet Sylvia Sica, here from Uruguay. Yesterday she was in Lafayette Square, and it was the first time she had seen snow in her 43 years. She grabbed a handful and felt it.
She is here in the cold.
She is spewing metaphors in English. "It's beautiful. Not like ice. How do you say? It's smooth. It looks like egg whites."
"Me gusta." I like it. "Nieve." Snow.
And there, Robin Edmonds and her friend Anna Marie Yombo are trying to improve on nature. They are building a "PC" snow individual in front of the White House.
"The snow was a nice landscape. It was beautiful before, but we made it artistically enhanced," she says, admiringly. She lent the snow creature her 14-karat gold earrings. She gave it her Body Works lip balm for a nose and six pennies for a mouth.
It is a he/she snow creature. She didn't want to offend anybody by making it gender-specific. She does not want to discriminate.