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x0x WINTER'S WHITE QUILT:SNOW

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  • Turkish Radio Hour
    x0x WINTER S WHITE QUILT:SNOW By Akgun Akova First one falls silently, spiralling gently, magically. The moment it lands on the ground like a cold white
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 23, 2003
      x0x WINTER'S WHITE QUILT:SNOW

      By Akgun Akova

      First one falls silently, spiralling gently, magically. The moment it
      lands on the ground like a cold white butterfly, it melts and
      disappears. Then another slowly falls, and then another. As the
      snowflakes continue their descent they gradually form a white quilt
      over the world. When seen under a microscope every snow crystal has a
      unique pattern, revealing that nature is an architect of ice.Like a
      white rubber the snow erases footprints, roof tiles and pavements.

      Children gather at the windows exclaiming joyfully as they look out at
      the snow. They try to trace the path of single snowflakes on their
      journey to the ground, but the flakes fall so thick and fast that it
      is impossible for the eye to remain trained on that special one.

      Pictures are drawn on misted windows and excited preparations begin to
      build a snowman. A carrot is procured from the kitchen, lumps of coal
      from the coalhouse for eyes and mouth, and an old hat and scarf
      rummaged for in drawers.

      The snowman needs a broom as well, and another search ensues. Sleds
      are hurriedly sought on the back balcony where they have lain
      forgotten since the previous winter. If the cold weather and snow last
      long enough for icicles to form on the eaves, those too high to be
      knocked down with sticks make good targets for snowballs.In eastern
      Turkey the flat adobe roofs of the cottages must be swept regularly in
      snowy weather, otherwise when the sun comes out the melting snow will
      seep into the roofs. In this region the snow is so deep that you see
      sheep nibbling hay laid out for them on the cottage roofs.

      Laundry frozen into hard boards hangs on washing lines, and horses
      struggle through the drifts. While for those in the milder western
      regions snow the depth of a man might seem a delightful dream, in the
      east it is a cruel reality. When Lake Cildir ices over, people break
      holes in the ice and let down nets to catch fish. At Ahlat on the
      western shore of Lake Van, fine snow blown by the wind highlights the
      old inscriptions engraved on Seljuk tombstones.

      Turkish writer and artist Ferit Edgu has experienced many winters in
      eastern Turkey, and described them vividly, as in this passage about
      journeying to Mount Agri (Ararat): 'If you set out from Istanbul it
      would take you ninety days of walking before you found yourself in
      Agri. If there were strength left in your knees and breath in your
      lungs, another 21 days would bring you to the snowy summit of Mount
      Agri. You might not see Noah's Ark, but the view would be no less
      astounding.' While Edgu was writing these lines, pigeons were sliding
      as they landed on the snow covered domes of Ishak Pasa Palace in
      Dogubeyazit.

      When snow makes the roads impassable, towns and villages are cut off
      in their own isolated world. Then the impenetrability of the towering
      mountains is felt even more forcibly. On days when the clouds disperse
      sufficiently to reveal the setting sun, it patterns the mountain peaks
      with red powdered purple stripes which make it seem as if the
      mountains are smouldering within, while you shiver in your thick coat.

      Then yellow lights begin to shine out from the cottages, and
      grandmothers tell their grandchildren stories about people who became
      lost in the snow being rescued by dogs.

      On moonlit nights you catch sight of the shadows of mountain goats
      flitting fearfully across the blue-tinted snow. Fierce gusts of wind
      fill the air with a fine white haze. Waterfalls turn to ice as night
      falls, bringing freezing temperatures, and when the sun emerges the
      following day wisps of mist rise from the stream as the waterfall
      comes to life. Great plates of ice are swept downstream, and on the
      slopes above, wintr'se rebellious flower, the snowdrop, pushes its
      head through the glistening blanket of snow. This is why the
      fairytales of eastern Turkey feature the snowdrop instead of the tulip
      as in those of the west.

      While some of the inhabitants of the forests hibernate through the
      long winter, the foxes use all their cunning to hunt scarce prey in
      the snow. For wild animals winter is a thin line between starvation
      and survival. Weary migrating swans land on the shores of the Black
      Sea, and if they lie unmoving are invisible against the snow. In the
      mountain town of Mihaliccik in the western province of Eskisehir snow
      crystals gleam beneath the street lamps by night, and from far off can
      be heard the bells of the flocks of goats and the barking of the sheep
      dogs. At train stations in the province of Bilecik grimy red trains
      sleep on rails buried beneath the snow. Mudurnu Clock Tower wears a
      white hat. As the pine trees on Mount Ilgaz turn white, the murmur of
      a poem by Ahmet Muhip Diranas can be heard from the depths of the
      forest: 'By night snow falls upon us / From a dark rainy thought /
      Mingled with the rustle of the forest / And galloping through the flat
      blueness / Snow falls upon us gently.'

      Whenever snow falls I am reminded of a Japanese haiku, and the crows
      seem to acquire beauty. But snow is not just whiteness which makes
      black patches stand out. I will let Ismail Uyaroglu relate what else
      snow is: 'Snow brings three things / One, silence / Two, everyone
      thinks / I will say cold now / No, silence / Three, yes silence / Come
      with snow from the sky / Cats, even trees, hear it / White silence
      falls.'

      * Akgun Akova is an author
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