Sunday, February 24, 2013

. . . Let it Snow!

Rain, rain, go away! Let it snow, let it snow! There is nothing like waking up to the beauty of snow glistening on the trees as the sun rises in the woods. I love snow. So how did I ever end up living in South Carolina? That’s probably a story for another time, but here’s what I remember about my earlier life in snow country.

Growing up in Massachusetts ensured that I always had plenty of snow to play in. Winter days were filled with hot chocolate, snow fights, sledding and building snowmen . . . snow women . . .  snow kids, and sleeping in igloos.  Of course we had to shovel and scrape ice off car windows before school, but snow related chores were far outweighed by the fun times playing in it.

College days in Maryland indoctrinated me into another type of fun in the snow – no classes and beer runs on cross country skis. A blizzard in the mid-eighties shut down our campus and all of Frederick. It was the perfect storm. Students were snowed in and professors were snowed out, for days. Thankfully the food services department managed to get to work so we got fed. But even better than eating, was the fact that we could use the cafeteria trays to shovel paths to each other’s dorms. We attempted to use the trays as sleds, but even though it is nice to remember that my butt was once small enough to fit on a cafeteria tray, they don’t make very good sleds. So when the “tray sled” attempts failed, my student job in the PE and Recreation Department really came in handy.  I had the keys to the supply closets. Cross country skis provided the transportation we needed to travel straight to the nearby store to fill back packs with essentials . . . including the ever-important beer. Did I mention that half the Marines stationed at Camp David were also snowed in with us?  Well I imagine you get the picture!

 In the 90’s I experienced snow in a whole new way. Living in West Virginia, miles from a main road, with two small boys made snow storms an adventure back in time. We would go days without electricity, running water and only the wood stove to heat the house. We could shovel the driveway but it was a futile effort digging to nowhere since it took days for the rural roads to be plowed and then days more until our private hilly road was cleared.

One particular storm came on without much warning. We were snowed in before we could load up the house with essential supplies. The snow was wet, heavy and clung to the trees creating an immediate winter wonderland. We lost power before we had time to fill the tub with water and had no choice but to melt snow on the wood stove. We assessed food and supplies and hoped we would not be stuck long. The boys, still in diapers, loved playing in the snow but were too small to play alone in snow deeper than they were tall.  So I played with them while dad split wood and melted snow. It may sound like it was a lot of work, but truthfully there was a special beauty and peace in a winter wonderland that makes life stand still for awhile. We enjoyed time as a family, free from the distractions of TV, jobs, phones and the usual business of daily living.

And it was all good . . . until we ran out of diapers. Going back in time to hand washing diapers with melted snow would not be fun for long! Thankfully, Dad ran out of cigarettes at the same time so I knew a rescue was eminent and he did not disappoint.  With snow shoes and back pack strapped on (did I mention he was a Marine?), he set out on the two mile hike to the closest main road. Who says addiction is always a bad thing? It took many, many hours but he eventually returned with the essentials: cigarettes and diapers - two things you don’t always see mentioned in the same sentence!

Funny how the essentials of life change over time – from hot chocolate to beer to diapers, life is always changing.