Reflectons on Snow
© Copyright 2017 by Norma Tekell
Sitting here in the den, in my comfy blue recliner, dressed in my blue fleecy lounging pants that are adorned with snowflakes, my old navy blue tee-shirt, and leopard print slippers, I can see the snow falling. Those big fluffy looking snowflakes that Daddy called “goose down flakes.” In my memories, I remember this type of flakes as the ones that stayed around for awhile. As a child I thought snow was on the ground from late November to early March. However, as an adult I feel there were days, in that span of time, the ground was clear of that white covering. I hear the weatherman from Channel 4 in the background saying we may get up to six inches of snow. As I continue to watch the big fluffy flakes dancing to the ground, memories of snow in my childhood years fills my mind.
Growing up in Kansas, snow was a given. Every year, at some point in October or November snow made an appearance. Big fluffy flakes so thick we could not see the neighbor’s house; snowflakes covered everything in sight: the ground, trees and their limbs, cars, roof tops, and everything else. My brothers and I each took a different window and reported to anyone who would listen of the snow activity.
Often the snow would start in the wee hours of the morning, while I was fast asleep. I always knew it had started to snow when I woke up. There was a nice quietness that belongs only to snow; an overwhelming feeling that “all is well;” a feeling that a big comfy blanket is covering the earth. Looking out the window, I could see the sparkling coverlet that was knit by the” goose down flakes:” a blanket untouched by human foot or animal paws. I knew, in that instance, if I searched that magnificent winter wonderland I would see God playing in the snow: making snow angels, laughing, throwing snow balls at the trees above, or building a snowman. Search and search as I did, I never found God (physically, that is) in the snow. As an adult, I have come to realize He was there. He was the quietness I felt, He was the brightness I saw, He was the untouched snow.
Winter has always been a favorite season of mine. The more barren the land, the less allergies I suffer. With winter comes a fascination for snow. As kids my brothers and I played in the snow for hours at a time, making snow angels, snowmen, having snow ball fights, and my personal favorite - partaking of snow cream. Momma would give us a big bowl with the instructions: gather only the pure snow; snow that has not been touched and definitely no yellow snow. With loving care she took that bowl of snow, added a little milk, a dash of vanilla, stirred it up, and presented it to us. Now, that was some good eats. On other days Momma would make us hot cocoa; not the kind you add hot water to a mix, but the real kind. She started by cooking the milk to the proper temperature, adding the correct amounts of sugar and cocoa, then simmering to perfection, and finally serving in a mug with a big luscious marshmallow. I still remember, fondly, those acts of kindness she created for us, as the snow continued to fall outside.
I don’t remember ever having a snow day from school. We bundled up and walked to school every day; even played in the snow at recess. Every morning was a ritual as Momma dressed us for the snow. First, a heavy sweater was buttoned over our clothes, a wool scarf was tied around our neck, and finally, a heavy parka type coat was put on and zipped to the top. Black glossers were put on our feet. When we were in grade school, Daddy walked us to school for a few days and then we were on our own. Those were the good old days when it was safe for kids to walk three blocks alone.
When I reached the age to attend Holiday Junior High School, I was excited because I was allowed to walk the two blocks to school by myself. That was when I adopted my own ritual concerning winter bundling. I would walk about half a block to meet my friend Barbara, and together we walked to school. When I was out of sight of Momma’s eyes, I unzipped my coat, untied the scarf, and unbuttoned the sweater. Waiting a few minutes for my body to recover from the shock of cold air, I took off the coat, scarf, and if not too cold, took off the sweater, as well. I thought the boots were cool, so I left them on. I arrived at school with my bundle in hand. On the way home my bundling took a backward turn: first sweater, then scarf, and finally the coat. When I arrived at the house I looked the same as I had when I left in the morning. I don’t think Momma ever knew of my ritual.
As Barbara and I walked along to school, I remember us having trouble crossing the street. The streets were flat with a slight incline at each side of the curb. As we stepped off the curb and took a step we would slide backwards. We learned to jump over the incline to the street and were on our way. I remember another time when I was walking home from my piano lesson; I spotted a large snow drift, and for some reason, decided to jump on top. When I hit the top, I fell down into the drift, up to my neck and could not get out. Luckily a man passing by had seen me playing “king of the mountain,” and quickly dug snow so I could get out. I never jumped in a snow drift after that.
Living in Kansas snow is extremely different from the “Bible Belt” of Tennessee. I don’t remember cities or towns closing down due to snow. Daddy was a traveling salesman when we lived in Kansas, and he went out every day on the roads. Of course, Daddy had a great sense of adventure and snow would only provide more adventure for him. I remember taking my driver’s test in snow and ice. If Momma needed something from the grocery store, she got in her old grey Packard and ventured put. Of course, Kansas was prepared for the snow. As Channel 4 continues in the background, I hear Mayor Berry stating, “We were not prepared for a snow of this magnitude.”
Bob Dylan once said, “Times are a changing,” and they truly are. When I was a child, there were very few interstates, fewer semi’s (as commodities were hauled by rail), busing kids to school had not yet been created, and most women worked at home leaving fewer cars on the road. Life was simpler back then.As I continue to sit here, drinking a cup of hot chocolate (the hot water/mix kind), and watch the snowflakes floating to the ground, I reflect on the gentle quietness of this morning, were I searched for God in the snow, as I did many times in my childhood.