a hectic, silent, elfish bee-hive

It snowed outside. The wayfarers' footsteps were inaudible upon the thin layer of snow on the pavement; the earth was dumb and dead. But the air was intensely alive. In the dark intervals between the street lamps the falling snow made itself known to the wanderers in a multitudinous, crystalline, icy touch on eyelashes and mouth. But around the gas-lit lantern panes it sprang into sight, a whirl of little, transilluminated wings, which seemed to dance both up and down, a small white world-system, like a hectic, silent, elfish bee-hive.
Isak Dinesen, A Consolatory Tale.

I just read this yesterday and it is indeed a small white world-system outside my window today.