When our youngest child was around 10, we presented him with a weather forecasting kit for Christmas. He opened up the large, impressing box, hauled out the various gadgets within and set everything up on the dining room table. He made a few notes, consulted a numerous charts and triumphantly announced, “It’s going to snow…a lot.” We thought “How cute. He thinks it’s going to snow, but we know differently. None is predicted.”
Just then a lone little flake drifted by the window. And then another, and another.
Two days later, it stopped. It had broken some kind of records for white Christmases and our world was a winter wonderland.
I’ve always loved snow, can’t get enough of it. I remember the first snows of my childhood when some cranky adult had to announce, “It won’t stick,” as soon as all the kids in our house were squealing with joy at the first flakes.
When I was young enough not to consider the ramifications of non-stop blizzard conditions, I would moan in disappointment when the sun came out after a howling storm. One of the enduring memories of my childhood is of watching from my bedroom window as the gigantic state snowplows paraded down the road to turn around just before our house, which was on the county line. I can still hear the rattle of their chains and see the blinking of those five red lights on top of the cab.
School was never canceled due to snow in those days. I will admit there were some truly terrifying rides on a slipping sliding bus, making its way through minimal visibility. When girls were allowed to wear long snow pants under their dresses, it was only because there was plenty of snow around and the cold was breaking records.
But I still love that white stuff. I always turn on the outside lights the better to see the swirling flakes. I listen for the sound of the plows to assure me it hasn’t stopped.
The most astounding quiet in the world may be found in the woods when it’s snowing, muffling every sound except for the sigh of your cross-country skis. And you know there are creatures underneath the snow-capped branches, watching as you revel in the sheer beauty all around you. And probably thinking you’re nuts.
Every few years _ my neighbor says it’s a cycle _ we get a season with practically no snow at all. Take last year: the ground was quite bare until February. Ski area workers cranked up the snowmaking machines and proclaimed conditions were better than ever. Maybe they were, for skiers. But I prefer my snow around the house, being plowed off the road, and shoveled off the roof. To be sure, my own shoveling chores are confined to the deck, while my husband gets stuck with the heavy lifting.
I have a brother in Alaska who loved to taunt me with reports of non-stop snowfalls. Then, I have another brother who invites us down to his Florida home toward the end of March when our love affair with snow is wearing just a little thin.
As I write this, in early winter, it hasn’t snowed yet.
But as Bing Crosby sang, so shall I, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.”