Friday, December 14, 2007

Snow Storms I have Loved

The current snow storms remind me of the magic I found in the snow storms of my childhood in Illinois. Sometimes, my brothers and I would go to bed in a leafless, cold, gray world, and awaken in the morning to a white wonderland. It would be quiet in comparison to ordinary days, because the snow on the streets muffled the sounds of cars going by, and the whole world looked clean and beautiful.

I suppose the grown-ups had more practical things to think about in relation to the snow, but to me, as a child, it was magic.

My brothers and I would get bundled up and go outside, as soon as breakfast was over, and start creating things in the snow. There was no limit to our imaginations. The snow was like a clean new slate. You could make anything of it that came to your mind. Wonderful!

Years later, when I was grown and had a couple of kids, I was staying at my mother's house in Illinois, and was depressed because of the break-up of my marriage. It was almost Christmas. The leaves had turned and dropped off the trees, but still there was no snow. The Christmas decorations that began to appear everywhere only made me feel more sad.

A couple of days before Christmas, I spent the evening wrapping things I hoped would make Christmas fun for the kids and for my mother, but I felt like a fish out of water. No more husband. No more home. What would happen to me? And to the kids? I wanted to be cheerful and full of the Christmas spirit, but when I went to bed that night alone, I felt very low.

Next morning, I awoke early. It was unusually quiet. Sounds outside seemed muted and the world seemed to be in a hush. It stirred my memory. I jumped out of bed and rushed to the window. Snow! Everything had changed into a scene of white beauty. Having been living in the southwest, I had almost forgotten how snow could transform the ordinary world.

The kids were still sleeping soundly, so I quickly got dressed, bundled up in coat, scarf, cap, mittens, boots and went outside.

The snow had fallen softly, so that it had piled itself on every branch and twig, every fence and fencepost, on the stairs, the railings, the roofs, the birdbath, and the garden bench. As I walked around through the snow, under the trees, looking at everything, savoring the beauty, a feeling of safety and peace suddenly came over me. It seemed to enfold me in a comforting warmth that told me I would be OK. I didn't know how, exactly, but I knew I would be. I felt as if I were a part of something much larger than myself, and that that something had my best interests at heart.

I can't explain that experience, but I was OK. True, I had many up and downs through the years, but basically, I always was OK.

Now, I no longer live where the snow falls, but when it falls in other places, I remember again the assurance that the beauty of new snow brought me one December day long ago in Illinois.