December 16th, 2017
We had the first (puny) snow flurries of the year last weekend and my children promptly lost their minds. When the first tiny flake appeared in the sky, shrieks of – “IT’S SNOWING!!” – rang through the house and there was a stampede to the front hall closet as my kids searched for their snow gear.
I managed to convince them that snow pants were probably unnecessary but there was no deterring them from wearing their boots. Out into the driveway they charged to whirl and jump and stomp their feet on the flakes – now numbering approximately twenty-five.
Using a combination of shovels and stupendous willpower, they somehow managed to collect a small pile of snow in the middle of the driveway and from that created several snowballs that they hurled at each other with glee. And, of course, they wanted to eat the snow. I didn’t object to them standing with tongues out or even to nibbling a few bites off their gloves, but I was forced to intervene when I caught them licking the snow off our neighbor’s car. Yes, really. Apparently a viewing of A Christmas Story is in order to illustrate the dangers of sticking one’s tongue to frozen objects.
It was truly a pitiful snowfall, gone before it had really arrived, but their excitement made me laugh. They may be Kentucky kids now, but their momma is a Midwesterner and clearly a fondness for frozen adventures runs in their blood.
I grew up in northern Illinois, went to college in Wisconsin, and have many memories of snowy extravaganzas. There was a monumental sledding hill at a forest preserve near my hometown that drew crowds by the hundreds each winter. The hordes of people packed the snow until it was slick as ice and treacherously fast. The paths up the side of the hill were thoughtfully outfitted with tires and railings to make hiking back up easier and there was usually a bonfire burning nearby.
There’s something magical about the exhilaration and camaraderie of sledding. Throwing yourself down the hill, laughing like maniacs. Falling off and doing it again. Huddling around the fire with a thermos of hot chocolate cupped between frozen fingers. In college, we’d hit the sledding hills at night, cars parked at the top with their headlights shining down to illuminate our antics.
My kids come by their enthusiasm honestly. Or maybe all kids love the snow, regardless of their roots. I had a friend in college who hailed from the tropical climes of Hawaii. He became famous for the igloos he built in the front yard of the dorms, working diligently with the zealous fervor of a new convert.
In any case, last year’s winter was deeply uninspiring for my children. Although the schools were canceled once or twice, we never racked up enough accumulation for a good snowman and the kids’ sleds sat untouched and forlorn in the basement all season. The disappointments of last year are definitely contributing to our collective impatience with Mother Nature this year.
Despite the meager accumulation, my kids made the most of that first dusting. They stayed outside for nearly an hour and even managed to produce respectable snow angels in the driveway. For their sake – and my own – I’m hoping we get at least one good snow this year. Those sleds in the basement are calling to me.