No, we’re not exactly “snowed in.” In fact, by my count, we’ve only had about two feet of snow, all told, this month, and we haven’t suffered with icy roads and power outages like those folks in Texas.
Still, the frigid cold and windy days set the stage for several snowfalls. Oh, the peace of watching those big, fat flakes falling, turning the countryside, trees, and houses into a powdery white wonderland. Benches and bushes take on curious shapes with the onslaught of snow, and the brave little birds dart to and fro from the fleece-covered feeder.
“Snow was falling
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness.” – Mary Oliver
Then, finally, the snow ends, and it’s time to don those heavy wool sweaters, the puffy coats, knit hats, striped scarves, bulky mittens, and tall boots. Winter is in full swing. Out comes my trusty blue shovel as I attack the piles on the sidewalk and porch. Whoosh! Up flies the snow, bright white against the blue sky and frosty air, then falls with a thud on the snowbank. My husband cranks up the old snow blower, held together with a wing and a prayer, and roars up and down the driveway, creating an arc of diamond like crystals in the icy atmosphere. Afterward, we watch the neighbor’s kids erecting a snow fort, then joyously indulging in a snowball battle.
The soft blanket of this snowy February conjures thoughts of winters gone by, and memories sift in, like the snow as it drifts by my window.
Just a turn of my head, and I am transported back in time. Our own kids are building that ice fort, bundled against the cold, their smiling faces glowing. Then, they tumble back into the house for a snack of hot chocolate with a dollop of whipped cream and some gooey Rice Krispies treats.
Decades later, those same kids are parents themselves, and although distant by miles and Covid concerns, they send on-line photo streams of our grandchildren, dressed in vibrant jackets of bright orange and green, falling into snowbanks to create snow angels. On other snowy days, in an effort to escape cabin fever, photos capture them tramping through snow covered Pennsylvania state and county parks, and fording paths by icy streams and lakes. If there is an silver lining to the corona virus pandemic, perhaps it is that families have been afforded the time to explore the beauty and simplicity of nature.
Seeing those little ones enjoy the snow sends me back to my own childhood.
A clear recollection comes to mind. My brother and I listening close to the kitchen radio to hear of school closings after a northern New Jersey snow storm. Screams of excitement, then, after a warm bowl of Cream of Wheat, pulling the heavy wood and metal Flexible Flyer from the garage. Arduously dragging the sled up our hilly street, then, flopping on, and screeching head first down the slope. The ride always improved after the snow got panked down for a while, but that hidden jagged rock could sometimes veer you off into a tree, resulting in the banged-up knees and hurt pride of a sledding accident. After hours in the icy cold, I’d trudge home, my hands frozen despite my two pairs of gloves.
But my snow memories could never top those of my Dad’s, who loved to tell tales of how, in the snowy 1930’s Wisconsin winters, he had to tramp two miles in knee deep snow to the one room school house, where the young school mistress had been stoking the pot bellied stove for an hour beforehand. No snow days back then!
At night, Dad and his two brothers, lying in their attic room, watched the snow sift in through the rafters onto their quilts.
Down through the years, winter memories- and a silent, white and frozen landscape, a wintry world, captures us in this moment.
But even now, the promise of spring lies waiting in the ground, and in our souls. In the words of Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”