Let It Snow

But make it like it used to be.
Probably a good two-thirds of the US is sick and tired of snow and cold by now, and where I sit typing these words, we’re definitely sick and tired of the cold. But it suddenly struck me that it wasn’t so very long ago that these chilly temperatures wouldn’t have bothered me a bit twenty years ago.
Upon further reflection, I have decided that winter, and more specifically snow, is one of those things that is pure magic to children, but that somehow loses at least some of its magic as we grow up. It’s a shame, but there it is.
I was like most every other kid my age. If the weatherman so much as hinted at the possibility of flurries, I was all over it: watching the sky, following the forecasts, and singing that dumb “Let It Snow” song over and over. If his predictions failed to come true, I took it as a personal affront and an indication of the basic dishonesty, if not outright treachery, of Adults With Clout. But if he was right, and especially if it snowed more than he’d predicted, well, he was an American Hero.
Back then, if school was cancelled because of snow, we cared not if that meant we’d have to make up an extra day or two in June. June was FIVE WHOLE MONTHS AWAY, for crying out loud! A lot could happen between now and then. Besides, if the snowfall was big enough, the governor, bless him, would declare a state of emergency and we wouldn’t have to make up anything.
Our teachers did try to enlighten us. They warned us about extra days at the end of the school year, reminded us that school was our job, yadda yadda yadda. But I found out later, in a rare example of maturity granting special insight, that the teachers all prayed for cancellations more fervently than any student ever thought of doing. The secret’s out, teachers! We are onto you!
A snow day meant one thing: outdoor fun! We could stay out for hours, if only our mothers would let us. Did we not feel the cold back then? I don’t remember being chilled while playing in the snow, though I must have, the way I dived right in and got covered with the white stuff. Oh, didn’t we have fun?!
Memory likes playing funny little tricks on us. I seem to recall all childhood snowfalls as being at least six inches deep, and of course the snow was always perfect for packing into snowballs and snowmen. And there was never any wind, or so my memory tries to convince me.
Oh, I know we didn’t always get huge amounts of accumulation, and sometimes it was that awful wet heavy snow that didn’t want to be rolled into balls, the kind that you scooped up and it was a big, hard chunk, more like ice than anything else. Or sometimes it was that dry powder that was almost like flour, wouldn’t hold a shape for love or money. That kind was fun to burrow around in, though, if there was enough of it.
Did you ever play in the snow at night? That was one of my favorite winter activities. At night, the wind was usually calmer, and there was no sunlight to dazzle my eyes and make them tired. Plus, what could be more beautiful than a good coating of snow lit only by the full moon, or even by the ordinary yard lights?
Even in college, I looked forward to snow. My school was in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, so we tended to get a fair amount of snow every winter. The entire campus didn’t usually shut down for snow (except during the infamous Blizzard of 1996, but that was obviously a special case) but very often individual professors would cancel their classes. Believe me, on that spread-out, hilly campus, you did not want to be trudging around to classes in a foot of snow.
But all good things have to end, and so it was with the magic of snow and dnow days. When you’re out of school and working, you very rarely get a day off for snow. If you can get out of your driveway you’re expected at work. Some workplaces are more cautious about staying open on such days, but that’s the general rule.
You look around and see all the schools closed, all the news stories where they show kids spending their days off sledding or ice skating or having snowball wars, and you feel sad, and even a little bit cheated. Why’d I have to grow up and lose out on all that fun? Why do I now get chilled to the bone just walking to the mailbox and back? Why do I have to worry about all the people driving in this weather? Why, why, why?
Part of the price of growing up, that’s all. But oh, what a high price it sometimes seems!

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2 Responses to “Let It Snow”

  1. Walt Says:

    Ghostess what you write is so true. . . . I am sure I am a lot further from my childhood than you. . . but I do remember those great days. I remember waiting for those magical “School Closed” annoucements on the radio. It set off a day of celebration and merriment. Snow forts and snowmen to build, battle plans to draw up, snow angels to make of course only after a peace has been brokered. Then to return inside for the warm beverages and reminders about buttoning up our coats, keeping our socks on our hands, and covering our ears. All of these memories bring smiles to my face and questions to my mind. I wonder if my playmates of so many snowfalls ago even get to enjoy the white quietness that a deep snow fosters. I pray they continue to enjoy this gift from the heavens. It may be a day off of work, a glass of wine by the fireplace, coffee with a friend, a phone call checking on a neighbor, or just savoring the pictures painted by the snow on the earth. But what I truly hope is that they can still summon up that little imp of yesteryear to form and launch at least one snowball at one of their unsuspecting friends as a tribute to a much more innocent time in their lives.

    • ghostscribe Says:

      You said it! I have known people from places that got a lot more snow than either here or my moutain college, and it was a bit disconcerting to find out that what we would call an impressive snowfall was not much of a muchness to them. A friend of mine grew up in Colorado, and she says that schools are only rarely closed for snow there. She did say that if your bus was more than a half-hour late picking you up due to bad weather, then you wouldn’t be counted as absent. Still, it isn’t the same!

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