She was made, not begotten.
Her father, the Snow Weaver, had no wife. He was a cold man of the snow and his bed needed no woman to warm it but his snowcraft was a heavy burden to bear alone.
He longed to teach his craft to an over-awed apprentice—but no youth from the lowlands would ever climb so high. No, he must weave his own heir.
On the longest night of the year he ventured down the mountain, listening through the wind for the voices of stray villagers, sniffing the air for the bitter scent of coffee steaming from their aluminium thermoses. But all was safe. He worked swiftly in the moonlight, gathering heaps of the softest, purest snow he could find. He had no desire for an awkward, icy child.
He wanted a son, of course—most men would—but, as he followed the moon’s path across the mountain streams, he listened to low, muttering voices on the wind. The gods had other ideas.
No weaver, no matter how clever his fingers or flexible his loom, can make a living being all on his own. Fortunately, the gods enjoy watching men create new life. They hover in the winter dark, when sweaty men and women twine themselves together in the dark. Some say it is the gods themselves who decide which woman’s eggs are to be pierced that night, which man’s fate it is to do the piercing.
The lowland folk trust the gods. But the Snow Weaver feels sure the gods act mainly for their own amusement. Their voices on the wind confirm his view. They laugh at him, blow hard pellets of sleet against his face, and whisper in his ear: If he would be so bold to try to weave a child from snow, he must treasure snow’s purity and beauty and its quiet icy fire. He should weave a daughter.
A daughter would be docile and have small cold hands. He would be able to teach her to weave the snow. A boy might be sturdy, but then again he might just be a shapeless, stolid block of ice.
As the moon sank and more flurries drifted down the mountain, the Snow Weaver gathered up enough snow to make a 5-pound infant and packed it gently into his frosty silver baskets. He followed his own footprints back up to his cave, to his loom of fir branches and strings of mountain catgut.
She should have snow-white hair and grey-blue eyes—the colour of the afternoon sky when new snow is falling. With the gods’ help, he would craft her cells, her skeleton, her living organs. Inside her icy womb he would fashion silver eggs, to be pierced one day. Her own snow children would be begotten, not made.
There was much to do before she melted.
As he shaped her plump white arms and gently pressed down on the soft part of her infant skull, the gods’ laughs faded.
By Frances Hay