During global warming’s recent vacation to the arctic, record-low temps were set and kids and grownups got a few days off of school and work.
My wife and I have lived in an empty nest for a number of years now, but it was fun seeing pictures and video of our grandchildren on the east coast sliding on their sleds from the top to the bottom of the hill in their front yard, and then trek back up to repeat until they wore their mother out.
Also, the news and social media were filled with images and video of parents and children spending time together frolicking in the snow and ice. Makeshift sleds, from trash can lids to flattened cardboard boxes, allowed kids, moms, and dads, to giggle and make memories together.
My personal favorite was the video of the kids, they might have been 3 or 4, using a plastic laundry basket as their snowmobile.
There’s something about snow, especially for those of us who’ve only known 20-minute Southern winters all of our lives, that changes us. And it changes us for the better.
Snow days allow us to stop the world that controls us, and if only for a few days, gives us control of our time. Time to spend not punching a clock or studying a textbook, but time with each other.
What always amazes me is how, when Mother Nature freezes us in, we revert to things we did during the ice and snow storms of our childhoods. Things that our parents learned from their childhoods, and their parents from theirs.
My sister and I would press our noses against the big living room windows.
“Momma! It’s snowing! Can we make snow ice cream?”
Smiling, she would nod.
We’d bundle up and put on our gloves, then each grab a big bowl and head outside.
Mom would guide us on how to take the snow off of the trunk of the Buick. The trick was to get the top layer. It was the clean snow.
With bowls full, we would head to the kitchen where mom would mix in sugar, Pet Milk, and vanilla.
We’d peel off our coats and gloves and sit down in front of the console TV with a big spoon.
Savoring every scoop, we’d scrape the bottom of the bowl as we watched Bewitched or one of our other favorites.
We would go out into our front yard and try to build a snowman, but he never was a very large snowman since we were lucky to get a couple of inches of snow. But, he was still our snowman and we’d proudly call our mom and dad outside to tell us how good we had done.
When I was 15, we had three weeks of significant winter weather. Every Wednesday for 21 days, there was some form of winter precipitation. The first Wednesday, it rained and then froze. The second Wednesday, it sleeted and snowed. The third, it snowed some more.
My best friend Clint and I bundled up and made our way through an empty lot to a construction site. There we found large piles of dirt, which to us had turned into slopes like the finest ski resort in Aspen.
We uncovered some flattened cardboard boxes, dusted the ice and snow off of them, and spent the next several hours shoving each other down those hills.
When we finally called it quits, I think that’s the coldest I’ve ever been. I had no feeling in my feet and my hands barely worked. I wish I could go back and do it again.
Heading home, we peeled off our boots and soaked socks and stuck our feet and then our hands in front of the fireplace. The rest of the day was spent with warm drinks, jigsaw puzzles, and playing canasta.
My kids loved playing in winter weather. Shortly after we moved to Texas in the late 80s, it iced and snowed one Christmas Eve. We lost electricity, but between family quilts, an old Aladdin Lamp, and a charcoal grill, we did fine.
An ice storm in the early 2000s left all of the city without electricity. The first question our then teenage son asked was, “How are we going to eat?”
Since his diet consisted solely of Hot Pockets and microwave ovens, he was quite concerned about the possibility of starvation.
He marveled that you could wrap Hot Pockets in aluminum foil and place them in a cake pan in the gas fireplace. We all ate Hot Pockets and watched Wheel of Fortune on his small, battery-operated handheld TV.
It’s one of my favorite memories.
We’ve allowed our worlds to spin faster. So fast that we don’t spend the time with each other that we should.
So maybe, just maybe, these little winter respites arrive for a reason. To give us the moments we should already be taking to stop what we’re doing, spend time with each other, and laugh, love, and reflect.
Because it’s the snow ice cream, snowmen, and sledding that build the warmest memories.
©2018 John Moore
John’s book, Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then And Now, is available on Amazon.
Email John at firstname.lastname@example.org.