I walked over to the grocery store tonight through a pleasant dusting of new snow. On my way back I was crossing through a parking lot when I realized the random scrapings of fresh-fallen snow under my feet weren’t random at all: I was walking through a word about twenty feet long, inscribed into the snowy surface of the lot. As a philologist I was instantly captivated, of course, and as a fantasy reader (and writer) I was reminded of some electrifying scenes from The Silver Chair (my favorite of the Narnia books, and I hope they never make a movie of it).
So I had to stop and read the word, but (since I was standing in the middle of it) I had to take it in installments. The first part of the word was AS and when I turned around to look, the second part seemed to be HOF.
“AS-HOF,” I muttered. A temple of one of the Aesir. Someone had written an Old Norse word in giant snow letters and I had just happened to walk through it. How cool was that?
Unfortunately, on second glance, it turned out that there was a second S after AS and what I had thought was F was really LE. I reread the word and was no longer pleased to be standing in the middle of it.