Whatever happened to shouts of glee and over anxiousness that accompanied the coming of winter and the snow? It snowed again last night, and the snow continues its descent onto our parched high mountain plains of Wyoming. Yes, the weather people predicted this stuff. Some said 7-8 inches; others, perfunctorily, said a few inches. Whatever they said or meant to say, we knew the snows would still come.
Whatever happened to the feeling of being able to go outside and play in the snow, build snow forts in the backyard along the west fence by the Hewards, create human chains and tube the massive sand dunes by St. Anthony, or go snowmobiling with Carey and Laura in Charlie Hunting’s fields down by the slough? All that fades, now that the cold and the snows continue harassing us.
Although Punxsatawney Phil did not see his shadow, meaning, ostensibly, an early spring, winter still blusters around us, spewing snow and unseasonably cold weather everywhere in America. And I am not happy about it. I guess age somehow deadens the naïve senses of youth and the good old days and causes blinders to shut out the looking forward to the white stuff.
When I was younger, I loved peeking out the curtains when my mother wasn’t looking—she hated them parted once they were closed—and watching the huge flakes float daintily to the ground, covering the blotching brown with soft whiteness. Before street lights in Menan, the outside porch light created a funnel that welcomed the white flakes, kissing each one with sprays of 60 watts of light.
Often at night, my brothers and I anticipated what the morning would bring, hoping our alarms would wake us to so much snow that we wouldn’t have to go to school. Finally, we dropped off to sleep, knowing, praying, the snows would pile high enough for us to make paths in the new snow in the soft glow of the morning.
Come morning around 6:15 a.m., we donned blue or gray hooded sweatshirts, our new snowmobile suits, yellow fuzzy gloves, knit stocking cap with face masks, and our green snow Pacs. All bundled up, we were finally ready for the deep drifts, leading to the barn. Like sled dogs breaking trail, we sloshed through the snow toward the barn and corrals where the pigs, cows, chickens, and horses waited for us, anxious for their morning breakfast. As soon as the milking and other chores were done, we had time to play in the snow before we had to get ready for school and a dismal day inside.
Usually our first order of business in the newly converted yard was making snow angels. We fell backwards and began making snow angels, arms and legs outstretched and moving them side to side, ever so carefully out and away from our bodies, touching our gloved hands to our thighs, creating perfect angel wings.
Trying to rise from our angelic pose and not ruining the perfectness of the snow angels proved to be the most difficult task. Carefully, we inched our bodies now thick with clothes and clotted snow to our elbows, then to our hands; then using our hands, we pushed our bodies up and onto our feet and leaped clear of our angels. We stood, congratulating ourselves that we had not plopped back into the crevices of our angels, thus preserving the angelic sculptures in the snow.
Once the angels were completed, we grabbed the shovels and tossed snow until we could see the driveway and the sidewalks. Finished shoveling out our side of the world, we shuffled over to Basil and Freda Heward’s place and began shoveling them out. We tried to be quiet so we wouldn’t wake them. With two or three of us, it did not take very long to uncover their walks and single car driveway.
Just before we slipped back into our house to warm up, drink a cup of hot chocolate, chuck full of miniature Marshmallows, and have breakfast, we trundled to the backyard where we oogled the snow drifts, now fence high, that beckoned us to come partake. Tempting as it was, we knew they would still be there, maybe even be bigger, when we returned home that afternoon from school. For just a brief moment, we planned how we were going to build the snow fort, carefully this time, together, not like last time when the snow was just right for snow balls and all else was forgotten in an onslaught of fist-packed snow. Somehow boys possess a sense of quitting everything when being bombarded by snowballs. Snowballing fights were war, and we couldn’t lose.
Only quiet memories still linger in the minds of adults, now too old or too lethargic to climb from their soft, leather chairs to shuffle outside to taste winter the way it was supposed to be: to sling snowballs; make perfect forts in deep drifts; and create snow angels in the soft, perfect snow, made especially for little boys with imaginations, warm blood surging through their young veins, and no sense of cold or wetness seeping through their clothes.