As pure as the driven snow

carrotnoseBoy oh boy did we get snow yesterday. Snow covered the ground when I woke at 5 a.m. and continued all day long. By the time I went to bed last night, the forecast was calling for a blizzard and possibly 18 inches of snow in some places when all was said and done. This morning the sun is so bright it makes my eyes water to be outside.

The little dog was up to her neck trying to see to business. She loves snow as much as I do..but not for the same reasons. She’s more interested in the mice and other small creatures tunneling through it than aesthetics. She’ll walk the yard with her ears cocked and her little body tight in anticipation. If there’s a dent or hole in the snow, she’ll shove her face in it, just in case. She’s part terrier. Murder is who she is.

I have a lot of oaks and hickories in my yard. The top half of every branch and twig is white. Equally gorgeous, the cedars are straining under the weight. I’ll say it again. I love how beautiful this place is when it’s blanketed in snow. It’s magical when the sun rises and sets and lengthens the shadows. And tucked in the shadows and snowdrifts, I can find every shade of blue ever dreamed of. What is it about shadows this time of year? Oh yeah, Groundhog Day. gh

On February 2, 1887, a group of Punxsutawney Pennsylvania businessmen and groundhog hunters met…yes, businessmen and groundhog hunters. Were they business men who also hunted groundhogs, or groundhog hunters who joined the businessmen? We may never know. 😉 Anyway…they called themselves the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club and met on Gobbler’s Knob with publicity in mind.

Their stunt was based upon an old country German observation regarding animals leaving their dens early. So these men woke up a hibernating groundhog just to determine if he saw his shadow, but more importantly, whether or not the shadow frightened him. If he hurried back to his burrow, it wasn’t because his sleep cycle was disturbed and humans were standing about, it was because “winter was still upon him”. That meant winter would last as long as winter generally lasts at that point on the calendar — another six weeks. But, if the groundhog wanted to sniff around and eat, then his hibernation period was ending anyway and winter was officially over. Oh what people do with time on their hands. lol


phraseologyPhraseology I often wonder where certain words and sayings come from. For the next few weeks this word collector will be examining some familiar phrases to get at their heart. I think you’ll be surprised.

The phrase for today is ~ As pure as the driven snow. Also phrased As white as the driven snow.

As far as similes go, this one is evocative, isn’t it?. But what does driven snow mean? Snow being blown by the wind is driven — the wind is driving it in the direction the wind is blowing. Snow blown into drifts stays off the beaten path remains untouched and clean. This exact phrase doesn’t make its way in print until the early 1800s. Despite this fact, the phrase is attributed to Shakespeare some 200 years before.  The Bard often used the white color of snow as a symbol of purity. Here’s an example from two of his works, the likely sources of today’s phrase: In The Winter’s Tale, Autolycus says: Lawn as white as driven snow. In Macbeth, Malcolm: Black Macbeth will seem as pure as snow.

So all clues say someone mixed a few of Shakespeare’s lines and gave us a recognizable phrase still in use today.


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About ~RoseAnderson

Rose Anderson is an award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and delights in discovering interesting things to weave into stories. Rose also writes under the pen name Madeline Archer.
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1 Response to As pure as the driven snow

  1. treknray says:

    The director of pharmacy at the hospital where I worked part time was a big fan of Groundhog Day. He would bring a cake and have a party in the pharmacy. He also had a box in which he claimed he had a groundhog. Inside was a hotdog (ground hog). I’ve been a fan of Groundhog Day ever since.

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