The much anticipated snow is here, light and fluffy enough to soften up even this Chicago girl's hardened heart. The dappled curtain of snow falling puts up a barrier shielding us from real life and responsibilities, because, for now, it's officially a Virginia Snow Day, one I used to scorn, but now embrace. Putting life on hold until the streets get cleared is a-ok with me.
As a kid growing up in the Midwest, brutally cold and snowy winters seemed to take up a majority of the year, and hold many memories. One of my earliest is of the adults in our neighborhood going ice skating on the lake in my backyard. As I watched from the warm safety behind our sliding glass door, my father, my hero, zipped along atop the ice and never stumbled or fell. Something to be proud of as he was faster and more in control on skates than any of the other fathers. My dad was better on skates than your dad! Ha! So what if he was pushing one of our aluminum folding lawn chairs in front of himself for balance, a dad had to do what a dad had to do, and he was still awesome.
We built snow barriers to hide behind for snowball fights, and learned to kick the cheaters out who made their snowballs early and stuck them in the freezer overnight; those things hurt. If we were really lucky and had more snow than usual, one of the other kick-ass dads in the neighborhood would make us an igloo. It's amazing how warm it was inside of there, and we'd listen to little battery operated radios and dream the afternoon away.
While the dads were all about wintertime fun, the moms had the laborious task of dressing us properly, keeping us warm and free from illness; for god's sake we all know that 90% of your body heat leaves through your head. Hats were a must, and so were the dreaded Snow Pants, those awful things that seriously slowed a kid down. My mother insisted on them, and on the coldest days I even had to wear them to school. Not only were they hard to walk in, they were also hard to take off by oneself. As a kindergartener, I waddled into school and hurried to get the dang things off before the bell rang. My favorite teacher, Mrs. Brace, spotted me struggling in the crowded hallway, and came over to assist. In the midst of all the kids getting to class in the locker-lined hall, she had me plop flat on my back so she could pull off one snow boot, then the other. As I stared at the ceiling and the faces swarming above me, she deftly slid the snow pants off next. As she did, something felt... wrong. Cold. Drafty. The swarming faces paused and mouths kind of fell open, and the horrified look coming from Mrs. Brace confirmed what I did not want to initially believe, the snow pant yank took with it my regular pants and underwear, leaving it all out there for the world to see. Yowza. Being a mere 6 years old, I probably recovered a little faster than Mrs. Brace, and, halleluiah, never had to wear snow pants to school again.
Wintertime fun included sledding on metal TV trays, lopsided snowmen, and big white hills along side the road man-made from snowplows. It meant gloves attached to a string inside your coat sleeves; those things were the best because you never lost them. It was lacing up your cracked leather skates, adorned with colorful pom poms, to hit the ice with friends, and a first kiss from Gary Miller after wiping out near the dock in the middle of the frozen lake.
During our February 2014 snowstorm in Virginia, we hope that you take a moment to make your own seasonal memories. Life is short, enjoy all it has to offer. Take a walk, kick up some snow on your boots, drink it in. Keep the photos coming of dogs frolicking, and cats curling up by the fire, or, if you are Megan Greer, your foster kitten staring down the neck of a beer bottle. Whatever makes you happy, for today, do that. The work week will come again soon enough.