Today marks the first notable snowfall for my house. It began late last night, and continued through the morning and afternoon. Although the actual snowfall has now stopped, the temperatures will stay below freezing all night, and the area will become a frozen canvas of white.
I’ve loved the snow for as long as I can remember, mostly due to its beauty. Sitting and watching snow fall is one of the most calming things that I know. I have fond memories from my childhood of sitting in front of the windows with a mug of hot cocoa, watching the white blanket everything in its pristine brilliance. I grew up with two older sisters, and during the course of winter, when we could stand to be around each other without fighting, we would happily play outside. Isolated from other houses, our imagination was our main ally. We built miniature mounds of snow and made up games involving them, including obstacle courses and hidden treasure. We created lumpy, misshapen snowmen and admired our inept handiwork. We rode our sleds down the small hill in the back of the house – though, at such a gentle incline, calling it a hill is a bit of a misnomer.
After the winter activities were finished, we would come inside – always through the basement door. My mother was not fond of three sets of wet, snow-covered clothing traveling throughout the living room. This worked out, though, as just two rooms into the basement was the fireplace. Many long hours were spent sitting happily in front of our fireplace, reading books, playing games, or simply watching the flames dance across the wood it hungrily consumed. We had an old green rocking chair next to the brick base of the fireplace, and when there were others around, I would sit there, feet propped up to be the first recipient of the warmth. Unobserved, however, I would sit on the bricks – directly in front of the fireplace itself. I had been warned not to do this, though I was never given a satisfactory reason why; likely, my mother feared a stray spark would jump onto my clothing and cause a horrendous catastrophe. There was comfort, though, in sitting in front of the hot metal until my clothing nipped at my skin and sent tiny pinpricks across my body… leading me, in turn, to sprawl on the cold floor to counteract the heat, returning everything to neutral, only to begin again.
Winter, as does everything, took on new meaning as I aged. The beautiful white landscape became a hazard to driving; moreso, though, in the change that it caused in other people than the conditions of the roads themselves. The ice morphed from a joyous surface to slide upon into an annoyance that needed to be cleaned, extensively, from all surfaces. Wonderment has been tempered with responsibility, and yet… whenever I look outside and it’s snowing, I feel the same warmth and happiness deep inside as I did so many years ago.