As I wait for the third snow storm in three days I was feeling a bit done with it all. For some reason I began to reminisce about how I felt about snow as a kid. I wrote down a bunch of memories and by the end of it I realized that snow really is amazing and how sad it is that as adults all we worry about is the shoveling, trying to drive and lost work time. It’s been a very gloomy, long winter around here and since I felt cheered up by the end of reliving my childhood memories of snow, I thought I would share some of them here and maybe you too can remember the magic of snow. (There’s no promise that I will enjoy shoveling later!)
In trying to remember my earliest memories of snow the first thing that comes to mind is looking out the window and seeing white snowflakes falling from the sky. How amazing is that? If you’ve never seen that before it is a beautiful sight. Or waking in the morning to a white and softened world? Did my parents know it was going to snow and didn’t tell me so it was a wonderful surprise? I am still surprised by how the world is transformed by snow.
As a kid the excitement burst throughout my whole body. Snow! Running to the kitchen and eating something quickly so I could start the long process of dressing for hours of playing in the snow.
Putting on the warmest pants or maybe two pairs. A turtleneck sweater and shirt over that. Two pairs of socks. Snow pants which made a loud swishing noise when you walked because they were so thick the legs rubbed against each other. A thick snow coat which made it hard to bend your arms. A hat and mittens that Mom had knitted. They were thick and warm and quickly got heavy and soggy wet, but she always had another dry pair waiting to switch out. Boots. They were rubber boots that had a flap you pulled over to the side with an elastic loop to put over the big button to hold them shut. They never kept the snow from getting inside and melting but they were the best we had. And when they leaked, we would put plastic bags over our socks to keep our feet dry longer. Dressed in all of that, we were ready to go outside.
The excitement of those first steps in the snow. How deep was it? Was it dry and light or heavy and wet? We liked the heavier kind as kids because you could make anything out of it. Snowmen, snowballs, snow forts and one year I made a whole snow village with a bunch of simple rectangular houses all around a half a foot high and probably a foot long. Small roads connected them all. Working on them for so long I remember being so cold that even my knees felt frozen from crawling on the ground.
I remember feeling like I could make anything out of snow. Being lost in the moment and not feeling the cold until eventually my body was screaming that I had to go in and get warm. Then suddenly feeling it and going inside for lunch which hopefully included hot chocolate. Toes numb and then tingly and then incredibly itchy as they thawed. After being inside long enough to feel toasty again, we would bundle up and do it all over again.
Another huge thrill was going sledding somewhere. The first sleds we had were the traditional Flexible Flyer. Metal runners with wooden slats to sit or lie on. A rope was tied to the cross-piece and you could steer it by pulling on one side or the other. Those sleds were fast in the right conditions and if you were really daring you would lie on your stomach, head first and feel like you were going a million miles an hour! They were very heavy to pull back up the hill. Later we had plastic sleds in a variety of configurations. The saucer which was wicked fast and no way to steer it. Then the thin sheet of plastic sleds which you pulled the front up by holding the handle giving it a toboggan shape. That was super fast too and you felt every bump, rock or stick as you slid over it. Eventually we had the molded plastic sleds which were a bit thicker and more comfortable to ride in with handles to hold onto. Steering involved leaning in the direction you wanted to go. It was never a guarantee. You always hoped you ended up where you wanted to.
We became experts of snow conditions and which sled worked best. Heavy, icy snow; the Flexible Flyer. Light dry snow of only an inch or two, the plastic sheet sled. A few inches of almost any kind of snow, the molded plastic sled. And the saucer was best for the soft powdery kind because you always had to bail out of it to prevent crashing into someone or something.
I remember going to a golf course where there were a lot of people sledding. The thrill of sitting at the top of a steep hill on that sled, being pushed really hard by my dad. It wasn’t just a push. It was the back and forward to build up power and excitement. The one, two, three! And I was heading downhill like a rocket!
We had to help shovel snow too which wasn’t as much fun but it was all part of a snow day. And again, if the conditions were right we would build snow forts from the snow piled next to the driveway. Digging holes and tunnels, stopping to eat the snow every now and then looking over our snow kingdom. After the forts were done, the snowball fights. I usually got laughing too hard to be very good at aiming.
And even as a kid, just sitting and listening to the blanket of silence that only comes from a good snow fall. If it was still snowing and nobody else was outside, feeling like the world was contained in that moment of crisp cold air and snowflakes melting on your face.
The world and nature were amazing.
I need to hold on to that feeling later today and tonight when I’m out shoveling. Maybe I can catch some of that magic again.