I am a summer person. I love the heat. I love the sweating and the thunder and the bees and the barbecue. I love the beach.
But even I have to admit, I really love a good snowstorm.
I love blizzards and nor’easters here in Massachusetts because they are such a visceral reminder that while we think we are in control of our own lives, nature is laughing right out loud at us.
I love these big storms because they force me to look beyond my usual safe and secure and technologically supported life. They force me to think, “Oh, oh….if the power goes out…..” I feel strong, smart, and prepared when I plug in my portable battery, double-check my generators and make sure the solar-powered flashlights are all charged up.
I feel excited and ready for a challenge when I make batches of calzones that can be eaten either hot or cold. And when I charge up all the flashlights. And bake some cookies because……really?
All of this preparation and pioneer-womaning is great and it all makes me appreciate a good snowstorm. But there is something I love even more.
I love a good snowstorm because it leaves behind it a small patch of untouched perfection.
No footsteps mar the perfection of the white. No dirt is anywhere in the image. No human impact can be seen on the landscape.
A good snowstorm is the ultimate “Do Over”. It allows me to look out my window, watching the birds flit from branch to branch. It lets me watch as a tiny chickadee picks the seeds out of an overgrown perennial.
A strong storm is a reminder to all of us that earth has been here a lot longer than we have. It reminds us that the roads are only a recent addition to the earth. It shows us that if mother nature set her mind to it, we’d be gone.
I love it.
I love the expansive spread of pure white snow across a yard.
Today’s New England blizzard is reminding me of one of my favorite memories as a teacher. I arrived at school one morning after a storm of some 12 or 14 inches. My students gathered in the classroom as usual. They handed in homework, did the “attendance” record and sat down to do “Before School Work”.
At exactly the moment when the official school day began, I told them all to put on their coats, snow pants, and boots. As I recall, they were excited and bewildered in equal measure. I lined them up. I walked to the door of our classroom, and then led them down to the outdoor exit. The exit that would take them outside to the playground.
To the playground that was covered with pure, untouched, sparkling snow.
“Nobody has been out here yet,” I told them. “Go!”
There was a short frozen moment of hesitation. And then the door burst open and out they ran. Twenty-four ecstatic ten-year-olds burst out into the pure, untouched snow. They laid down their footprints. They rolled in the snow. They buried their faces in the snow.
THIS is what I love about snowstorms.
They let us start fresh. They let children feel the miracle of laying down the very first footprints on that pristine palette.
A snowstorm tells us to stop, to slow down, to savor the moment. It tells us that no matter how powerful we feel ourselves to be, our footsteps will not last in this world. They tell us to embrace the moment of icy, sparkling joy. And they remind us that those moments are not eternal. They remind us that the snow will soften. It will become gray and icy and old.
A good snowstorm reminds us that every moment of joy is a moment to treasure. And it reminds us that even if it’s cold out there, we should go out and jump into the drifts.
Life and love and joy are all as ephemeral as a snowstorm, I guess. And that’s why we have to embrace and enjoy every one.