last night, two of them came into the kitchen in full gear: snow jackets, snow pants, snow boots, snow hats and snow gloves. in their 20 below zero wear, they waddled around the island like two puffed up penguins. there wasn't the hint of a flake in our forecast, but they wanted to try on all their new gear and model for the rest of the family. for the past couple of weeks, like an alarm-ready fireman, connor has had his snow pants , jacket and boots all set up and displayed in his room, prepared and waiting for that first snowfall when he plans to jump out of bed and into his winter things. i assure you, he’ll waste no time.
some of you laugh.
some of you shake your heads and wonder what's all the fuss.
some of you whisper under your breath, "oh, honey, you just wait and see."
and then some of you smile and say, "YES!"
let's face it, we all have different reactions to big snow. i get that. but i'm telling you, it will be just like christmas morning when the first snow finally shows up. we had a scant number of flakes twirl down two weeks ago and even that meager amount caused the 16 year old to dash to our front window. with her nose pressed up against the glass, she exclaimed, "look, mom, it's snowing!" (it really wasn't...just a few flakes, but i shared her excitement anyway).
my 7th grader, sarah, was in school when those same first few flakes fell. in the middle of class, her history teacher, sensing her giddiness, told her to go stand outside for a few minutes and enjoy them. sarah, who ran out willingly (and jacket-less), proceeded to jump up and down outside the classroom window while the born-and-raised minnesota children watched her like an exotic bird at the zoo. they laughed. they marveled too. as hard as it is for sarah to imagine snow, these children can't imagine it being this novel...this new. oh the wonder of it all.
my boys have already begun clearing a path from the top of our back hill to the lake. right over the browning bushes and shrubs, right over the hillside landscape they will go. they have great plans for the best sledding hill this side of lake minnetonka. at the rate they are moving, we will, indeed, have some superb sledding behind our house this winter.
last weekend, rick went out and bought them all sleds. no one was asking (yet). he just did it. those waiting sleds are now stacked in the garage. the dad who goes early to work each day in a suit and tie, who pays the bills and manages the family, well, he’s excited too.
i, in typical mother fashion, am wondering about the house's best entrance and exit points
in order to minimize wet floors and slush covered surfaces. but truly, this mama can't wait either. i've purchased the extra large hot chocolate cannister and am taking note of our firewood supply this week. there's extra cookie dough in the cupboard and last night i organized our entire basket of gloves, hats and scarves -- somehow, even coming from georgia, we have enough now to clothe a small army.
and still some of you shake your head and whisper, but, jody, what about the slippery roads and freezing temperatures? what about that layer of ice on the windshields?" what about rock salt and dead car batteries? what about the shoveling out and the being shut in? what about the pain of frozen finger tips and the drip of bright red noses? extra laundry and enormous heating bills? soggy socks and frozen locks? dripping dog and snow-buried newspaper? what about that, jody mcnatt?
you have some valid points there. it's not going to be all sled rides and hot chocolate. there will be some challenges in this new, colder frontier. i am well aware. my kids may only have experienced the mild winter of the south, but i grew up in northern ohio (smack dab in the snow belt, mind you)! it’s been close to 15 years since i’ve lived in this kind of climate.
but, i remember.
i remember driving to high school with chains on my tires and sandbags in my trunk. i remember once, on the way to school, i slid right off the road and into a stop sign at the front entrance of our neighborhood. and much to my younger sister’s dismay, i turned around, went right back home and climbed back into my bed. i remember the feeling of snow in my boots and the morning when my little red saab wouldn’t start. i remember bundling babies and pushing cold metal carts through the frozen slush of grocery store parking lots. i remember black ice and grey skies and the blinding white of sunlight on snow.
there are two sides, aren’t there? that’s it. that’s pretty much all of life. two sides to every coin. but the question is: how are we going to view it? how are we going to choose to view it? a lot depends on if we’re that 9 year old boy with new snow boots and a waiting sled to ride. i’m not really suggesting that we all need to behave like children, but i do think it’s probably good for us to check our perspective every once in a while. i know i have to do that. a lot. i could fret and fuss over the wet floors which are coming, but, honestly, i’d like to be a little more like my 7th grade daughter, sarah, who stood outside the classroom window jumping up and down. sometimes it’s a choice.
i keep hearing that minnesotans don’t hunker down, they toughen up. they prepare well and they push forward. i know sometimes the stereotypes show lots of casseroles cooking and indoor crafts occurring...(and that’s perfectly okay with me)...but i’ve been around these people for several months now. i’m already impressed. and i think i’m about to become more impressed with their spirit of survival, their spirit of embracing what comes, their spirit of choosing. we have a responsibility to be prepared -- no doubt about it. but don't we also have a responsibility to have a little perspective? maybe even a responsibility to be positive? -- to work with what we have and maybe even with where we are ... to look for the silver lining, to find the buried blessing? and maybe, even like a young boy with a sled and new pair of snow boots, to choose joy in the midst of life's cold?
winter is coming.
the snow, on its way.
the boots and sleds and mittens are waiting.
the choice is at hand. it always is -- wherever you live. whatever the climate.
"what good is the warmth of summer,
without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
~ john steinbeck
“winter is not a season, it's an occupation.” ~ sinclair lewis