I am not a cold weather person! Put me in a hot and humid climate and I‘m happy. My fantasy is to stow away to some south sea island with sandy beaches, swim in the warm seas, lounge under palm trees, and drink exotic elixirs out of coconut shells. My husband, however, dreams of going to Antarctica to do research. Really. That’s his idea of the “perfect” vacation. He comes alive at the first hint of icy weather. So, when this latest snowstorm hit, he got downright jolly! I, however, come alive when we get to the spring of the year and I know summer is right around the corner. Everything starts turning green and luscious and beautiful! Even though autumn is a beautiful time of year with its brilliant autumnal colors and brisk temperatures, I find it a bit melancholy because I know what follows.
Well, winter is not officially here as of this writing, but the weather sure is. Snow. Almost two feet of it fell in one day! This isn’t supposed to happen in Washington, DC. Richard and I supposedly left this kind of weather behind when we left Detroit.
This morning when I awoke, I rolled out of bed, stumbled upstairs, brewed a cup of coffee, then sat at the kitchen table and just stared out the window. “I don’t like snow and cold,” I kept telling myself. However, once I peered out at the sight, I couldn’t resist grabbing for my camera. It was 4:30 am (a menopausal thing….can’t sleep past 4:30 anymore) and what greeted me on the other side of the window was a veritable winter wonderland! There were no cars, no people, nothing to disturb the pristine beauty of new fallen snow. Snow had transformed my street into a magical landscape. The only illumination was from a street light, but the white snow reflected that light so that everything took on a golden hue.
As I looked out the window, I remembered my first snow storm the first winter my family lived in Kentucky. I was fifteen years old. Even though Louisiana had been my home since birth, I had seen snow. If memory serves me correctly, we had a “blizzard” one year when we were living in Greenwood, La.: three or four inches of snow! It is not unusual for northern Louisiana to periodically get a dusting of snow, but three or four inches was certainly worth noting. So when we moved to Kentucky and had our first big snow storm of the year, my brothers and I were beside ourselves with excitement. We were the only kids running up and down the street, writing in the snow that had accumulated on our neighbors’ cars.
Years later, when I was in my forties and a graduate student living in Rochester, NY, I had one snow experience, the memory of which still brings a smile to my face. I was living in the dorm on campus. Our building was on a very steep hillside (in fact, because of its site, we referred to the school as “The Hill.”) One particular snowy night, we were each in our own rooms, studying as usual. The halls were quiet, interrupted only by the occasional sound of slippered feet padding down the hallway to the communal bathroom…. until around 2am. I heard some commotion out in the hallway which quickly increased in volume. Unable to quell my curiosity, I went to check it out. Some of the students had decided they had had enough of the studies and wanted to go sledding. Plans were hatched. No matter that we were all past our impetuous youth, we were all intelligent, mature grad students. Did anyone have a sled? No. What could we use? We all scrambled to find something–anything–that might serve as a make-do sled. One plump, middle-aged woman offered that garbage bags made the best sleds for her kids; little resistance. After raiding the supply closet for garbage bags, we quickly pulled on our boots, threw our coats over our pajamas, and forged out into two feet of snow. The first few folks down the hill didn’t get much momentum because the snow was too deep and fluffy. However, with each person down the hill, if that person followed in the tracks of the previous sledder, she packed the snow down more, and soon we created quite a slick, slolum-like slide. In short order we had about four of these slides that took us to the bottom of the hill, right past the “no sledding” sign the school had posted at the beginning of the snow season. For two hours we played in the snow, flying down the hill at dizzying speeds, then trudging back to the top to do it again. There were about 20 of us acting like recalcitrant kids and having the time or our lives! Some who didn’t last as long in the snow as others of us, or who chose not to join in the sledding, rumaged through the dormitory kitchen scrounging up the makings for hot chocolate. Before we knew it, we were not only sliding and playing and laughing in the snow, we were taking breaks to go in and enjoy a steaming cup of hot chocolate. For a few hours in the middle of the night, we serious, oftentimes neurotic, angst driven grad students let loose, laughed, and enjoyed ourselves. Eventually we returned to our rooms, to our beds….study could wait. There were only a few hours left to get some shut-eye before the first classes of the day began, but when we hauled ourselves out of our beds we felt wonderfully refreshed, renewed, and revived to begin our day. That morning, as I walked from the dormitory to the classroom building, I glanced down the hill and smiled as I saw the tracks in the snow left from our middle of the night rebellion.
I have other good snow memories, too: cross-country skiing in New Hampshire; building snow people with the kids; ice skating on a pond in Ohio. Many of my fond snow memories are the times I spent with my children. They helped me keep the fun in the snow. They are all grown now, and live in far-away places. Now they have started their families and are creating their own snow memories. They will write their own snow stories.
Somewhere along the way I lost the wonder and enchantment I used to feel when it snowed. Snow has come to mean cold and discomfort, treacherous driving, shoveling and slipping. But maybe all the wonder is not lost. My first inclination this morning was to grab the camera and get a shot of the mesmerizing beauty that greeted me when I looked out my front window. I still have my snow boots and down coat from our Detroit days. I think this would be a good day to bundle up, take my camera and venture out once again into deep snow…. It might be fun.