Thursday, November 22, 2018

Snow Thankful

The landscape last week transformed in a blink from dull November to dazzling winter. Tuesday the kids scored a snow day from school – an occurrence so rare in these parts that it threw us all for a loop.

At first, I was aggravated by this unanticipated day off from school, which came after a three-day weekend and on top of a to-do list already lengthened by two days away the previous week. The kids, of course, were thrilled – both by the bonus day off and by the snow quickly covering the world outside.

As I shuffled my schedule to accommodate work and mom duties, they dug out winter gear and headed out to play. Occasionally I’d glance up from the keyboard, relocated for the day to the dining room table, and catch a glimpse of a sled flying by or a shovel being dragged into the front yard or a snowman taking shape in the frosted-over perennial bed.

It was perfect “snowball snow” – wet, dense, and easy to shape. Soon the kids had figured out that if they started at one end of the yard with a fistful of packed snow and kept rolling, they ended up at the other end with haybale-shaped snow forms nearly as high as they were. Slowly, the yard filled with large snow sculptures.

Try as I did to focus on the tasks staring at me from my computer screen, the fun being had outside was a consistent distraction. There’s something about that first snowfall that calls to my inner child: come out and play! (OK, OK, it’s not just the FIRST snowfall, but the opening act of the season pulls my focus to unravelling.)

Eventually, I gave up and pulled on snow boots, jacket, and mittens to join the fun. I helped the kids roll bigger and bigger snow bales, packing and lifting and piling the wet, heavy snow where they directed. At one edge of the yard, my son built an igloo, heaping snow into a huge mound and hollowing it out from within. My daughters rolled snow, one giant ball at a time, into a circle to create a Stonehenge-looking fort, complete with seats and backrests and an arced door to crawl through for entry.

The temperature dropped that night, freezing the kids’ soft-snow creations into solid forms in the front yard. Since then, they’ve been dusted by flurries, softened by the sun, and refrozen several times.

And the kids have spent hours outside – in both daylight and the pre-dinner darkness of November evenings – careening down our tiny sledding hill, fitting sneakers into old ski bindings to slide around the yard, adding features to their initial snow creations, and joining an epic snowball fight.

Beyond transforming the landscape and providing the kids with endless opportunities for outdoor fun, the snow has helped me to shift more readily toward winter, too.

While much of my work this time of year – and beyond – relates directly to snow and skiing, I have been hesitant lately to embrace the busyness the season brings. I was lamenting the dark and the cold, the arrival of endless early mornings for the next many months, the severe diminishment of downtime.

That all changed as the world transitioned to white last week. I’m ready now. Let it snow. 

Original content by Meghan McCarthy McPhaul, posted to her blog, Writings From a Full Life. This essay also appears as Meghan's Close to Home column in the November 23, 2018 issue of the Littleton Record.

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