When I was a kid, snow days were something to cherish. No school and a mess of snow to play in. This was back in those days long since past when kids could be out for hours and mom and dad need not worry. I recall how we would sled down the hill by Trinity Lutheran Church. Marquette Street ran right smack dab in front of it and part of the "fun" was being able to stop or jump off the sled before you hit the street. I look back at those days with fond memory and a profound sense of appreciation for my good fortune (or dumb luck) in never finding myself in that street...under a station wagon.
Even well into middle age, snow days still cause me to smile. Today instead of being in school, my kids and a friend made cookies. (They were good.) Instead of getting on the treadmill like I should have, I was out pushing snow. My youngest daughter was out three times and she laughed off the cold and wind. I think she has a future with the ski patrol.
The fact this was the first snow of the year added to the day. Last winter was a farce as far as snow was concerned. Jimmy Buffett has a line in one of his songs, "Been awhile since I seen any snow." (I can't remember the song so if you know it, please remind me, thanks.) I thought about that today as it came down. Although I am sure I will be muttering under my breath (or not so softly if it's a bad winter) about future snows, this has a beauty to be appreciated. The way the snow hangs on the branches, winter cotton if you will, is worth the look. In our hill in back the snow is a soft blanket of white, a blanket tucking in the hill for the winter. It is as if nature says, "Worry not about those remaining leaves. They will wait until spring." I got three bags of the bargain birdfeed from HyVee and filled up the feeders. I always like seeing the birds come back. I figure those who have the fortitude to ride out the winter deserve a snack. I have no doubt the some ambitious squirrel will attempt to hijack the feeder. I hope I am there to watch.
Then there are the deer. We do not feed them as it would be (to quote my Dad) a disaster if they were regular visitors. Cars and deers do not mix. Still, they do wander in, seeking the last of the apples or whatever else they can find. I recall one time at Fort Dix when I came face to face with a deer. I stayed down there during the week and one night I was coming back to my barracks room one night in winter. It was a cold night (duh, winter, I know, but please, just go with me on this) and I was walking alone. Then over the loudspeaker, taps was played. If you are inside, you really cannot hear it, but outside, with no other noise, you cannot help but hear it. Well, hear it is not really the right word. You do not just "hear" taps, at least I don't. It is both sad and comforting. The mournful notes hang in the air, like I suppose snow on a branch. I don't know the words by heart but then again, you don't have to in order to appreciate the importance of these notes. It signals the end of a day. It also reminds you of things past. The hidden beauty is you, the listener, get to decide what you are reminded of.
If you hear taps, you are supposed to stop. You do not salute for the flag is already down, but you should pause if outside and I did. It was then I realized this deer was like ten feet away from me. We both looked at each other. It was a thing of beauty. Here's the funny part: It was cold and I do not like cold, except here, in this moment I felt just fine. As the song died away I lingered, staring at the deer. Then, he turned and walked away, leaving me with the returned cold. This was a decade ago (thereabouts) and I still remember it. I hope I always will, if only with the first season's snow.
Snow days are special as is winter. It starts tomorrow. I'll make an effort to enjoy it, at least for a short while. I am also sure I will drive by Trinity Hill and shake my head at the joyful stupidity of my youth.
Be well my friends,