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Snow Falling Before the Autumn is Through

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Miles from Madison, Wisconsin, is musing about whether there’s a single word or phrase for the time of year when it snows while leaves are still on the trees. One jocular term for snow falling on leaves during that liminal period is snowliage, formed by analogy with the word foliage. Cultures around the world have odd expressions for the unusual phenomenon of the sun shining through rain, such as the donkey’s getting married or the devil is chasing his wife. Perhaps a similar metaphor would work in this instance, like the image of Mother Nature making her bed. In Japan, the falling of leaves on snow has been compared to the writing of words on white paper with a brush and ink. A light dusting of snow on the ground, which sometimes occurs while leaves remain on the branches, is sometimes called cat snow, a reference to just enough accumulation for a feline to leave footprints. Onion snow occurs in early spring after onions have already been planted. This is part of a complete episode.

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