I like how every snowstorm has a unique personality.

Some are harsh reminders of winter’s potential to pack a punch, others are snippets of frozen beauty, and no two have the same characteristics.

I’d put the one that hit parts of the Ozarks last Friday into the latter category. And it was particularly cool on several levels.

First, it’s always interesting when snowfall comes as almost a complete surprise, and last week’s pretty much came out of nowhere. Only a few days earlier, weather prognosticators assured us that we were in for a “significant snow event,” and were quite confident in predicting our area would see a good six inches of white stuff.

Then, nothing.

Conversely, I think I remember hearing that there was “a chance of freezing drizzle” or something like that toward the end of last week. Instead, snow started falling early in the afternoon and didn’t stop until four inches had piled up on the high ground where my remote Texas County outpost is located.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

Kind of reminds you that weather forecasting is basically guesswork, and that God is the only one who truly knows what’s to come on a given day in a given place.

But maybe the best thing about the surprise storm was that it was of the calm variety – the type that makes for the best in winter scenery.

As I was driving home from Houston that evening, the further I got into the Jillikins, the more intense the snowfall became. By the time I crested the big hill near home, it was coming down big time.

Since there was pretty much zero wind, the millions of flakes were falling straight down. As I got onto the dirt road that leads to our outpost, I slowed, and enjoyed the moment. It was a classic winter wonderland: light, fluffy snow covering everything in sight, from the smallest branches on the trees in the surrounding forest, to every inch of barbed wire lining the sides of the roadway.

Some of the snowflakes coming down were so large they looked more like snowballs, and no vehicles had yet passed the same way, so the route I was traveling looked more like an ungroomed ski run than a road. The atmosphere was extremely quiet and very peaceful.

When I reached home, there was already about three inches on the ground. As I drove my old pickup down the final portion of our tree-lined driveway, a couple of Corgis came running to greet me, smoke-like plumes of snow swirling around them as they plowed through the white stuff atop their short legs.

After I settled in a bit, I put on some snow-appropriate attire and ventured out to tend to animals.

The horses and the donkey were in chipper moods, and seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the windless, wintry situation. As they each chowed down the grain I had put in their buckets like it was the first they’d seen in months, I threw a bunch of hay on top of the snow along the fence line in the corral for them to snack on later.

Next I then went over to close up the chickens’ “room” alongside the garage, and was somewhat taken back when there wasn’t a bird to be seen. Rather than fret, I smiled, because I just knew they were safely weathering the storm in one of the other outbuildings. Sure enough, my wife found them the next morning perched on a beam in the old hay barn.

I had to laugh because I knew exactly what had happened. Our chickens wander the property freely during the day, but like clockwork head back to their shelter and hop aboard their designated perches just before nightfall. This time, though, the unexpected storm caught them off guard when they were still out and about. I’m sure that when it became obvious they wouldn’t make it back to base camp without trekking through snow, the group’s leader – Jerry the rooster – took the action he deemed necessary to protect his five hens.

“Ladies, we’ll hunker down in here tonight, and we’ll get back on schedule when this thing is over.”

Meanwhile, I checked the shop building to see how the outdoor cat family was doing. As expected, all three members were in a pile on an old blanket between some boxes and looked at me with that sort of disgustingly content cat-smirk as if to say, “may we help you?”

Having secured the animal contingent, I spent some time photographing the somewhat surreal but entirely beautiful scene right outside the house. I then said goodnight to the friendly snowstorm and went inside for the night.

Sometimes good things come when you least expect them. Last week’s snow was a nice surprise.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email:  ddavison@houstonherald.com.

Quietly falling snow piles up fast Dec. 28, 2012 in Texas County.

Quietly falling snow piles up fast Dec. 28, 2012 in Texas County.

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