Fifty Words For Snow

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Title: Fifty Words For Snow

Writer: Nancy Campbell

Publishing House: Elliott & Thompson

Date of Publication: November 5th 2020

Rating: 5 stars

‘’Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, further afterwards, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling too upon every part of the lonely churchyard where Michale Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.’’

                                    James Joyce – Dubliners

Even the people in countries where snow is daily reality get excited when they witness the first snowflake floating in the air. Now yours truly lives in Athens and every snowfall, however brief, is like second Christmas. Snow is one more of Mother Nature’s gifts to us, a vision of superb beauty, a symbol for purity, innocence. A holy silence in the silent season that calls for contemplation and introspection before the rebirth of spring. Our actions, however, destroy us. The constant violation we inflict on Nature has made snow a scarcity. This is what we are only capable of. Disaster and ignorance.

Nancy Campbell’s writing is tender, poetic and vivid. She guides us around the planet and introduces us to the lore and history of Snow, how it is viewed and revered, how it gave birth to tales and legends. The Sámi people stress the herders’ relationship with their environment. The Japanese fear the legend of Yuki-onna, the deadly snow-woman. In Korea, the first snowfall of the year may bring your true love into your arms. In Greenland, the glaciers are threatened by our own iniquities. In Scotland and Wales, the beauty of the snow reflects the beauty of the language.

In Thailand, snow is just a legend, a ghost that may or may not have existed. In Spain, snow is associated with the Holy Virgin, Her Purity and Protection over us. In Hebrew legends, snow reflects the changing of the seasons, God’s Providence. In Russia, the word sastrugi mirrors the sharp ridges of the snow, the horses galloping away in the tundra. In Latvia, the skylarks are associated with snow. Iceland and the Faroe Islands have a plethora of beautiful words about the serene gift. In the rich culture of the Cherokee, snow is bonded to God. 

In France, snow becomes a menace in the form of avalanches. Finland glorifies the frost that reigns on tree branches. Denmark is the birthplace of the beautiful and cruel Snow Queen. Anaxagoras truly saw black snow and in Italy, the neviere was used to cool drinks. In the Netherlands, you will taste the yummy Hagelslag, in Estonia, we will travel over icy roads. The last unconquered mountain top, the residence of the gods, is calling from the Himalayas. In Lithuania, sniegas has played a vital role in the course of the beautiful Baltic country. In Ireland, James Joyce created some of the most poetic descriptions of the Winter’s faithful, quiet companion.

This book is a dreamy journey in the eloquent silence of the falling snow and a moving cry to respect and protect Nature. Our Mother.

‘’He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hourfrost like ashes. He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold? He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow.’’

                   Psalms 147: 16-18

‘’Will there be any real snow at all when the year 2049 arrives?’’

Many thanks to Alison Menzies, Elliott & Thompson and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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