And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
I have to tell you that, despite living from the age of six years old to twelve in the way northern part of Minnesota, and from age twelve until now in Wisconsin, I hate snow. It was okay to play in when I was younger, sure. But now…ick. By the time I was in high school, I had absolutely no love for the foofy white wet freezing stuff.
When I lived in Minnesota, I was immersed in snow culture. My elementary school flooded a sizable section of the playground every winter to make a skating rink, and it was commonplace to pack your ice skates along with your lunch and schoolbooks as you left in the morning. There was a warming house built right into the school that was open after school let out and on weekends. The school was also built into an amazing sledding hill. I had an old wooden sled, which did really well on the snow, but also this weird rectangle of blue plastic that skimmed the surface and just flew. I had a saucer. And we had this thing that I was told was a Finnish toboggan. It never did much of anything in the snow but look pretty.
Sure, I went out and played. I built snowforts and snowmen and made snow angels. I wore boots and snowpants and really heavy jackets and mittens and a winter hat that had eyeholes and a mouth hole cut out of it so my face could stay warm. The little town I lived in, Esko, had a winter festival that included huge draft horses pulling sleighs and I loved anything to do with horses. If I wasn’t in the sleigh, I was sitting on the snowbank at the end of our property, watching the horses go by and begging for a chance to feed them a carrot.
I moved to Wisconsin in the 6th grade and when recess was no longer a part of winter, my love for snow soured. It became about shoveling and slogging through unplowed snow to the school bus stop, standing there in boots that were ugly, my feet wrapped in old Wonder Bread bags to keep my socks dry, which they never did. My bellbottoms would get soaked and sometimes freeze, and they’d dry in time for me to be dropped off after school and have to retrace the slog home.
Then came college at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and having to walk over that entire huge campus in the dead cold of winter, and poof, any romantic notions about snow were gone. This was followed by having to get my own children dressed and ready for school, and well…I hate snow.
But then this last Saturday.
It was the day after the AllWriters’ first Friday Night Free For All since the beginning of the pandemic, and it doubled as the studio’s 18th birthday party. It was a great event, and I was as satisfied as if I had a fabulous meal. I was off on Monday, so on Saturday, there was nothing I had to do. We were predicted to get up to four inches of snow. We got nine. Michael was at work. Olivia stayed at school. I was home alone, except for two sleepy cats and a lazy dog. And I did…absolutely nothing.
Sitting in my recliner in my living room, I looked out our floor to ceiling windows and just watched the snow fall. Remember any scene in any movie or television show that features snow, and how the characters turn out the lights and look outside and it’s just so silent and beautiful? That’s what it was like. There was no traffic, because no one was going out. The snowplows hadn’t started yet, and wouldn’t, until the next morning when the snow stopped. It put me in mind of, in particular, one of the last scenes in A Christmas Story, where it’s the end of Christmas day and Mom and Dad are on the couch, drinking wine, and they shut out the lights and look outside where it’s snowing. And Mom says, “Oh! Isn’t that beautiful!” And it was.
My living room was A Christmas Story beautiful.
I didn’t harken back to the days I played in the snow, when it was fun, but also cold, wet, and noisy. I didn’t harken back to walking around campus, mitten in mitten with my boyfriend, when it was romantic, but also cold, wet, and noisy. I didn’t even harken back to the days of going out with my kids, helping them build snowmen, watching them make snow angels, and knowing that my dryer was soon to be filled with snowpants, jackets, mittens, and hats. Supposedly moisture-resistant winter boots were soon to be leaned up against heat vents, trying to get the insides dry before the next day’s trek to school.
I did remember the awful winter when my now ex-husband threw all the wet stuff in the dryer, set it for blasting hot, and melted every plastic zipper in the winter jackets and snowpants. It was February, and I had to face the awful task of trying to find winter clothes for my kids, when the stores were full of swimming suits and tank tops and shorts, to remind us all that summer was coming – though not for months. Thank goodness for Goodwill. The event brought tears at the time, but set me to laughing now, at the memory. I wondered if my son knew not to throw Grandgirl Maya Mae’s wet outerwear into the dryer and set it to blast furnace.
So I just sat there, warm, dry, and happy, surrounded by quiet, and absolutely no need to go out in it.
And that made all the difference. I could appreciate it. And I did. Oh! How beautiful.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.