It starts with the wind.
When the wind shifts to the west or northwest, it drags moisture from the lake along with it. Over land, the cold air cannot hold onto the moisture and so it drops as snow.
Lake effect snow.
Buffalo and Cleveland get it. But my Michigan claims four of the ten snowiest cities in the lower 48. All four are on the shore of a Great Lake. Inland as we are, we get only 72 inches a year.
It started this weekend, which is late for us. The temps dove from 45 Saturday afternoon to 25 Sunday morning. By nightfall the familiar 'unripe' flakes were falling. Lake effect snow was water very recently. Instead of being carefully made over time, like bread, it is slapped together in a hurry and looks it.
I did not notice anything the next morning.
Normally, I walk to church. But the cold was well below freezing and the winds well above 20. So I drove. First time this season when the roads were genuinely slippery, and I paid attention. That's why I cannot say for sure if it happened before we left or while we were at church.
Coming home, though, back down our street, I saw four parked cars in a row had been severely damaged. One gouged, another over the curve with a dented bumper, a third crumpled in back with its nose crumpling trunk of the fourth car in front of it.
I could see what happened. Someone not in control - thanks to snow and alcohol perhaps, careened into the first, dove into the third (shoving it into the fourth) and then tried to back up, but got hung up on the curb. Disturbing both in its violence and its clarity.
Leaving the garage I saw animal tracks in the back yard . No doubt the rabbit that made them is frequently in my yard but only when its snows do I know because of the tracks. Unlikely juxtaposition, I thought.
Rarely do our actions leave a trail. Most days our deeds barely leave a mark at all. Cars travel down my street every day, rabbits across my lawn at night. No one notices. But they do, and without doubt they do not notice me or my looming yellow brick house either.
How curious, to live in a world so inhabited and not notice. Until it snows.