Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lessons from the snow

As I mentioned on Saturday, we had a pretty significant snowfall last Friday. I received a pre-recorded phone call from the school district informing parents that students would be released early due to inclement weather. I was expecting this. Folks in this neck of the woods drive big trucks and SUVs, but we're pretty clueless when it comes to how to drive in snow and ice. I was also expecting my kids to be very excited about being able to play in the snow.

Both kids soon bounded through the door--my 12 year old son more excited about getting out of school early than the reason behind it, but my daughter? She couldn't wait to get back outside and play in the white stuff.

Soon enough the three of us made our way to the backyard. After a brief snowball fight, my son found his way to the swing set. Content to be an observer rather than a participant, he simply enjoyed the blanket of white and the cold while listening to tunes on his ipod.

At this point in the story I could wax poetic about how I reveled in the opportunity to trod through the snow with my 8 year old daughter and experience the rare and magical experience. Instead I'll be honest and tell you it was cold out there. I had things to do inside. The early dismissal forced me out of my regularly scheduled programming. Basically, I wanted my day back.

And then I caught a glimpse of what my daughter was experiencing and suddenly none of those other things mattered. Because what she had found in the snow-covered lawn was joy -- pure, unadulterated, unapologetic, incredibly contagious joy.

So I cheered her on while she made a snow angel, helped her wrap up some snow in tin foil and stored it in the freezer for safe keeping.

We rolled three balls of snow together to make a snowman. We raided the kitchen together to find a carrot nose and raisin eyes. She cheered me on while I clipped a stray branch from an oak tree for arms, even after I got a face full of wet snow for my trouble.

By the end of the following day the snow had been replaced by drizzling rain and the snowman was a shadow of his former self. But even though the snow had melted the memories will remain.

I've often wondered where that magic of childhood goes once we're introduced to the realities of this world. I've wondered if it simply abandons us or if it merely sleeps somewhere inside our hidden places. I'm still not sure if it's either or none. But I am sure of this--we don't have a say in growing older. But we sure do have a say in growing up.


Maureen said...

Nice post! Loved the snow angel but more that you found the magic that day.

Even though we get snow regularly here in Virginia, no one knows how to drive in it. We get rain here and traffic gets snarled. I thought it was a Washington. D.C., kind of thing, all the transients, you know?

Heather Sunseri said...

There is something magical about snow, isn't there? We usually get about one good snow a year (at least that's all I really hope to get). I, like you, enjoy watching the kids play from the comfort of my own home - crackling fire, mug of coffee or hot tea, well, you get the idea.

I love the trail of clothes and melting snow the kids leave from the door to the fireplace after they've played.

~*Michelle*~ said...

"I've often wondered where that magic of childhood goes once we're introduced to the realities of this world. I've wondered if it simply abandons us or if it merely sleeps somewhere inside our hidden places."

I choose to believe that it sleeps....yes, a choice. And I am determined to keep waking it up as much as I can.

This was beautifully written.

Nitewrit said...

I grew up where winters were generally snow-covered months. Perhaps in doesn't seem magic until you read when people experience it rarely, then all the joy of those childhoods of snowballs and angels comes back.

Actually, I still love the snows. We live on the border of such storms now, so they come in fits and starts. Some winters are full of it, others fairly empty. I wouldn't mind a white blanket all season.

I still hate to drive in it here. I learned to drive where it was common; here too many haven't a clue and that makes a snowday a terror day on the highways.


Billy Coffey said...

We had about eight inches fall here over the weekend, and I can say for a fact that every word you wrote is true. I have to grow up in some things, yes. But not in all of them. I want to always have that desire to play in the snow. To play, period.

Great post!

Steph @Red Clay Diaries said...

Since we usually only get an inch or two once a year, our snowmen here look just like yours: Alone in a sea of green, with little bits of grass and leaves clinging to them. Forget shoveling snow in the South; just roll up a ball for a snowman and you can clear your whole lawn.

Great post; great message. I think maturity and cynicism too often travel hand in hand. It's easy to assume that they're impossible to separate.

And Heather, you're a better woman than I. "Love" is not the word that comes to mind when I see that trail of clothes and snow from door to sofa.

Helen said...

Inclement weather? See, I'd buy it if they just said "This is a maybe once in a lifetime, or at least once in a childhood, occurence here. Take the kids home and let them enjoy it!" But inclement? We have more snow here right now, and kids aren't even wearing their boots yet! LOL. Moms are demanding that they wear a hat and gloves, and the kids are complaining that it isn't THAT cold yet...it is still above zero.
I know. I shouldn't boast. I'd DIE in the heat you have to put up with in July and August. I might just melt away....HEY!!!! Got any plans for July and August? ;-)

Sarah Salter said...

"I've often wondered where that magic of childhood goes once we're introduced to the realities of this world. I've wondered if it simply abandons us or if it merely sleeps somewhere inside our hidden places."

I think my problem is that I've beaten it into submission. I got some kind of idea in my head of what a grown up is supposed to act like and any time my inner kid tries to act out, I duct tape her mouth, hog-tie her, and stuff her into a dark corner of the basement. I take myself and life FAR too seriously most of the time. That's one reason why my friendship with you and our circle of friends has been such a gift. Y'all encourage me to laugh at myself and at life. ("Encourage", "Force", whatever...)

Janet Oberholtzer said...

Great post!

Love the reminder that there's a difference to growing older and growing up.

Need to work today, but now will also look for moments to play!

♥ Kathy said...

I think it sleeps inside and in some people it sleeps lightly while others it sleeps deeply..

Doug Spurling said...

"But I am sure of this--we don't have a say in growing older. But we sure do have a say in growing up."

Matthew 18:3
and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

This is cool. My post tomorrow is about my 4 yr old granddaughter and being child-like not childish.

It seems there's a pattern here. Snow in CA w/Bonnie Gray, Snow in VA with Billy Coffey and snow in TX with you. Could be some climate change thing going on - Global cooling or something - you think we could get some government money to research that?
...I suppose you're right - no one would fall for something that crazy. Climate change, sheez what was I thinking?

Merry Christmas.

jasonS said...

I love taking the time to play- so important. Last night I was helping my kids do headstands in the living room and then I had to try a few myself (although I was a little too conscious of knocking things over to do it properly). We laughed and had a wonderful time. Gotta play!

As for the "inclement" weather, I simply have to laugh in your general direction... :)

Jody Hedlund said...

Beautifully written post, Kathy! I'm glad I finally stumbled upon your blog. The link on Billy's blog took me to a painting blog of yours. But I finally got here through your blogger profile page.

I hope there is still a child-like quality asleep somewhere deep in me. Sometimes I get a glimpse of her. But as you said, usually I'm too caught up in my adult responsibilities to let her awake!

Peter P said...

It sleeps.


L.T. Elliot said...

I'm so glad you took the time to play. I think some of the magic going missing is not taking that time.
I think I'll go out and play myself today.

Corinne said...

I think playing in the snow is one of the few things that can make almost anyone smile, even for just a few minutes. Cute pictures!

Annie K said...

The only way to deal with the snow is to get out and enjoy it. I love making snow angels!

Candace Jean July 16 said...

She will never, ever forget that. And I couldn't help but notice how quickly you dismissed the cold. (HA - COLD??? You call that COLD??)

Anonymous said...

your snowman impresses me!!!