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First snowfall hits northeast Ohio

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This morning, November 12, 2013, many residents of northeastern Ohio awoke to their first substantial snowfall of the 2013-2014 winter season. A blanket of white, from just the merest dusting to multiple-inch depths, coated communities throughout the region. (We should have perhaps heeded the signal offered by the unusually striking magenta-orange sunrise that greeted all of us the previous day. What better clue to the coming change in the weather?)

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As one glanced about their neighborhood, they partook of images like those included in this slideshow:

The finely branched structure of every shrub and small tree was delineated by the thick icing of fine white powder deposited throughout the quiet of last evening and night. Skies were calm enough to allow the lazily descending flakes to accumulate thickly and evenly, and to remain relatively undisturbed until morn.

But through the widespread and fairly consistent coverage of white, one could still clearly see the occasional penetrating bursts of fall coloration — rich burnt reds, vivid oranges, and acid yellows that glinted in the early morning sunrise breaking through the cotton-tuft clouds. Those trees had managed to already shrug off their coatings of snow.

Elsewhere, trunks and stems and branches shimmered wetly black or charcoal or umber or deep green, in contrast to the clear white of the early and unsullied snow. Each type of plant accepted the caking snow in its own particular way, according to its own peculiar structure and texture.

Within the densest clumps of branching, one could become lost in a whiteout maze, as the snow had found (and clung to) virtually every exposed surface, but the wind had yet not.

Berries and cones and leaves that remained on branchlets and stems hung on still, though glazed or cosseted in fat white parkas.

As the day's early sun began to weave its way past the cloud cover to strike one plant and then another, the slow glistening thaw began. Still brightly colored foliage showed itself wetly in the increasing glow of the day.

Perhaps prompted by the early snowfall — or, more likely, the diminishing extent of daylighting — the indoor Christmas Cactus bloomed more than a month early. It will likely burst forth in blooms several more times before this winter is gone.

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