As I am writing this, tiny snowflakes are falling from the grey sky. They descend from the clouds above and land softly on the ground, creating a thin white blanket over the landscape, tucking the earth in for the long winter’s nap ahead. Having grown up in Vermont and having lived in the Northeast my entire life, snow is nothing new. It has reliably fallen every year that I can remember, heralding in the winter season. And yet, each year, when the first flakes fall, it brings a sense of excitement and peace.
Of course, as kids, snow was always magical. It brought endless hours of fun. Sledding, snowball fights, snow angels, a blank canvas for snow boot artwork, catching snowflakes on our tongues, building snow forts and tunnels, following wildlife tracks, and of course, snowman making. What kid didn’t love to hear the announcement on the radio or t.v. that school had been canceled and that we could stay home to enjoy the snow day? And hours later, when we were exhausted from all of our fun and games in the snow, our cheeks rosy and our hair wet and matted under our hats, we would venture indoors for cookies and hot cocoa—a perfect ending to a perfect winter day.
In my childhood, the most magical memories I have of the snow are from the times we would go sledding at night. We had a steep driveway that, when plowed, made the perfect runway for our sleds. Careening down the hill, yes, laughing all the way, we would steer by the light of the moon. Our dog would chase after us, joining in all the fun, licking the snow off our faces when we eventually slid to a stop in front of the snowbank. Grabbing our sleds’ rope handle, we would then march back up the hill to repeat the fun. When exhaustion eventually overtook us, we would lay on our backs looking up at the stars, reveling in the peace that a landscape blanketed in snow brings.
When I had a child of my own, I tried to pass down some of these traditions that held such a special place in my heart. Sharing the magic of what a snowfall can bring. I’ve lost count of how many snowmen and snow creatures I’ve sculpted over the years. Each one unique and special in its own way. What fun to scavenge the yard to find the perfect foliage for hair or the ideal twigs for arms. Dried hydrangea blooms, pine needles, honey locust seed pods, and Echinacea stems are all fair game for creating features on a snow sculpture. Often these accouterments are themselves buried in the snow, making searching for them even more fun. A game of “who can find the best buttons?” would often ensue. And an old hat or scarf could give our new snowy friend the perfect finishing touch.
When it snows, I have noticed that there is a calm and peace that it brings. It is as if the world stops so that you can truly embrace the beauty. In the crazy pace that today’s modern world brings, there is no moment as still and as quiet as during a snowfall. It always gives me pause, a moment to reflect and soak in the beauty of the natural world. Snowflakes falling from the sky still mesmerize me in adulthood. Magic remains in a morning awoken to freshly fallen snow, where the pine tree branches glisten in the sun, shaking their snowy coat off as it melts throughout the day.
I must confess that it has been several years since I’ve built a snowman. Sadly, snow doesn’t always hold the same magic as an adult as it once did when I was a child. Now I am responsible for shoveling and planning how to navigate snow-covered roads as I go about my routine safely. Even with these new responsibilities that make snow slightly less magical, the first snowfall will always elicit wonder and excitement. I will always enjoy the peace that a snowfall brings. Perhaps this year, I will build a snowman to bring back all of the magical memories that snow holds in my heart. I will enjoy searching for the perfect features to bring him to life, and I will savor nature’s winter wonderland. Yes, I think, in the meadow, I will once again build a snowman.