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Story of My Life, by Helen Keller
my first visit to Boston, I spent almost every winter in the North. Once I
went on a visit to a New England village with its frozen lakes and vast
snow fields. It was then that I had opportunities such as had never been
mine to enter into the treasures of the snow.
recall my surprise on discovering that a mysterious hand had stripped the
trees and bushes, leaving only here and there a wrinkled leaf. The birds
had flown, and their empty nests in the bare trees were filled with snow.
Winter was on hill and field. The earth seemed benumbed by his icy touch,
and the very spirits of the trees had withdrawn to their roots, and there,
curled up in the dark, lay fast asleep. All life seemed to have ebbed
away, and even when the sun shone the day was
if her veins were sapless and old,
she rose up decrepitly
a last dim look at earth and sea.
withered grass and the bushes were transformed into a forest of icicles.
came a day when the chill air portended a snowstorm. We rushed
out-of-doors to feel the first few tiny flakes descending. Hour by hour
the flakes dropped silently, softly from their airy height to the earth,
and the country became more and more level. A snowy night closed upon the
world, and in the morning one could scarcely recognize a feature of the
landscape. All the roads were hidden, not a single landmark was visible,
only a waste of snow with trees rising out of it.
the evening a wind from the northeast sprang up, and the flakes rushed
hither and thither in furious melee. Around the great fire we sat and told
merry tales, and frolicked, and quite forgot that we were in the midst of
a desolate solitude, shut in from all communication with the outside
world. But during the night the fury of the wind increased to such a
degree that it thrilled us with a vague terror. The rafters creaked and
strained, and the branches of the trees surrounding the house rattled and
beat against the windows, as the winds rioted up and down the country.
the third day after the beginning of the storm the snow ceased. The sun
broke through the clouds and shone upon a vast, undulating white plain.
High mounds, pyramids heaped in fantastic shapes, and impenetrable drifts
lay scattered in every direction.
paths were shoveled through the drifts. I put on my cloak and hood and
went out. The air stung my cheeks like fire. Half walking in the paths,
half working our way through the lesser drifts, we succeeded in reaching a
pine grove just outside a broad pasture. The trees stood motionless and
white like figures in a marble frieze. There was no odour of pine-needles.
The rays of the sun fell upon the trees, so that the twigs sparkled like
diamonds and dropped in showers when we touched them. So dazzling was the
light, it penetrated even the darkness that veils my eyes.
the days wore on, the drifts gradually shrunk, but before they were wholly
gone another storm came, so that I scarcely felt the earth under my feet
once all winter. At intervals the trees lost their icy covering, and the
bulrushes and underbrush were bare; but the lake lay frozen and hard
beneath the sun.
favourite amusement during that winter was tobogganing. In places the
shore of the lake rises abruptly from the water's edge. Down these steep
slopes we used to coast. We would get on our toboggan, a boy would give us
a shove, and off we went! Plunging through drifts, leaping hollows,
swooping down upon the lake, we would shoot across its gleaming surface to
the opposite bank. What joy! What exhilarating madness! For one wild, glad
moment we snapped the chain that binds us to earth, and joining hands with
the winds we felt ourselves divine!