Saturday, January 23, 2016

Reflecting on this Snowy Day

“The Snow Man” by Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

I remember the hill today, in particular. And I feel a small pit in my heart for I’m not there, the moment has passed.

Today I sit under a warm roof, watching the snowflakes fall delicately on the bare branches. The sky gray, the earth silent. I sit in remembrance of days like this on the hill.

The evening before great anticipation swelled in the house, ready to burst with excitement for a day off and a day of play. Childhood memories are built upon such nights. Procrastinating bedtime in preparation for school the next day but overtly hoping to wake up to mom saying, “No school today!” then back to a warm bed to finish a dream then rise with great vivre.

Maybe pancakes would be made or a steaming bowl of oats but as soon as the energy was gobbled down the time came for the great bundle.

Ah, the great bundle. I dreaded these times. The toil and sweat to prepare three kids for the cold, dressing them in bulky, obstructive snow suits, squeezing their little piggies into rubbery, fleece lined boots while shoving mittens on their little kittens, placing the cherry of a pom-pom hat on their head, remnants of baby hair making one last stance before the strands of time fade to extinction.

The fussing and whining at such an effort. Boy, I was frustrated. Shame I couldn’t savor such fleeting tears.

Then out the door, a wave of arctic air flushing through, waking up whatever senses still lay sleeping. Sleds and saucers gathered and off they went. At this point I was typically still in my pajamas and robe, skating through the snowy, icy driveway in slippers, long enough to get the kiddies set up for some fun on the hill before I returned inside for a grasp at silence.

We lived on quite the hill. Not great topography for a family with three young kids, but when a winter storm hit, our house was the place all the neighbors, young and old, flocked. Life and limb was risked tearing down that hill, sometimes fast and far enough to skirt across the road and down the wooded ditch. Those were fun times, filled with reckless abandonment, liberatingly wild and carefree.

At first I would watch through the frosty window and laugh and giggle from a distance. I’d watch as the kids would fly down the hill, getting smaller and smaller from my line of vision until they’d crash to a stop laughing all the way, then trek back up for another adventure. It looked like such a joy ride and it was! I’d break out the camera and take some shots, then I would drag myself to partake in the fun, reminding myself that such activity would invigorate my aging soul.

It was cold outside but the smiles and excitement from the kids at their mom showing up to be a kid motivated me to brave the elements. And we rode down that hill, dodging trees and gullies. Gathering branches and stones, carrots, old scarves and hats, we built snowmen and named them. Stepping back into my childhood, I became one with my own kids, for that moment and that day, investing in a memory that I didn’t realize would become so etched in my mind.

Time to come in from the storm and have some hot chocolate and bake some cookies. Sipping coco by the fire, cheeks defrosting and pink, mittens hung to dry until a second wind blew by ready to start the winter dance all over again.

Today I sit in my warm, new home on a flat lot perfect for a young family, except when there is snow on the ground and no hill to ride down. And as happy and at peace as I am, I reflect with a dull ache in my heart on those days and times on the hill. All is quiet here.

I longed for today, a day to savor silence, not having to deal with the great dance of a winter bundle and attendance to three dependent, young heartbeats. Today is that day. There are no suits to stuff mittens in kittens and cherries on tops. Visions of hot coco and cookies are saved for another snow fall. This storm is calmer. Yet as calm and as peaceful and as blessed as today is, I have a small ache as I remember the hill and those days. And the memory pleads to ride them once again. If just for a moment.

Today, on this quiet, kid free day, in the warmth of a new life, I pause, close my eyes, take a sip from a phantom vision, knowing and grateful that life is good, then swallow the nostalgia triggered by a gentle flake falling on a tree under a gray, wintery sky.


  1. A beautiful reminiscence, takes me back...both to snow days as a child and taking my daughter sledding on hers!!! Warm fuzzies all around.

  2. This is just beautiful and brought back so many memories with my own - all now grown - kiddos. I miss those days a lot..

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I miss them too:) "Missery" loves company!

  3. Your best work yet. Absolutely beautiful.

  4. Beautifully done! Yes, they are wonderful when they are grown, but i miss those baby and child days.

  5. Very well said. We all have some form of these memories.

    I'm glad Cranky sent me over.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  6. Thanks to Cranky for sending me here to enjoy beautiful writing.

  7. Yes, I think Joeh has a warm spot in his heart for those snowy days of yore as well. Nice memories.

  8. Yes, I think Joeh has a warm spot in his heart for those snowy days of yore as well. Nice memories.

  9. Aww...that made me weepy with regret for ever complaining about my boys tracking in snow, casting off wet clothes, and begging to go back out a half-hour later. You really captured the mood of a snow day. Bravo!

  10. We had a hill too, but it swerved dangerously into the start of our woods. I could still watch from the window, though, because Alex, our rescued golden, ran alongside every sled-full to ensure safety!
    "Mittens on kittens! - aww! You write so sensitively, reminding us parents - and grandparents - to savor every single moment because they just don't last!

  11. A sign of a good blog post - be it the beautiful prose and/or the engaging content - is heartfelt comments from the readers. When I read the comments, it says that I enjoyed the post and wonder if others did too. It's a continuation of your story.

    I read the ones here and agree with them all.

    J says to savor every moment... I tried as I was stuffing hands into mittens, but I can't say that I was savoring back then. :) Three kids, layers of clothes, wiping up snow water, going out to play when I wasn't quite ready, and so on. Day 1 had elements of fun, but day 2 and after - no savoring, just hard work! :) However, I savor the memories and I'm glad that I did what I did with my kids. And even though they are not little any more, the challenging young adult and teens are capable of giving me just as much joy as when they were the challenging little ones. I suppose I will savor all the phases of their lives, just as my 82 year mother savors her time with me, her 58 year old daughter.

    See what your post did to me!

  12. Love it! Thanks for taking time for such a response. I'm on the cusp of the teenage years so good to hear I will savor:)

  13. Very nice. I just popped over on the advice of the Cranky Dude :)

  14. Great read, yes most enjoyable. Thanks to Cranky for the link to your blog.