First Substantial Snow

It snowed last night. Or, maybe, in the wee hours of this morning. I was sleeping, but when I went to walk my dog, there was a fresh covering of snow on the ground. There was only one thing I could do, enjoy it!

Where I live, in Minnesota, we have had a few flakes and barely a dusting once or twice. But this was a covering; I could no longer see the dead grass. Late in the season for a first serious snow covering and I’ve been waiting for it. I love snow!

I decided to go to a park somewhere with my dog at 6 a.m. It was dark; the air was crisp, and since it was Sunday morning the traffic was scant. My car was parked in the driveway, unsheltered, so I did the typical Minnesota thing and slam doors to make the snow fall off the windows. Inside, I started my car and did the other Minnesota thing and rolled down my driver and passenger windows to scrape the rest of the snow off. Maybe you understand. Roll down the window, risking a sheet of snow falling into the car, and roll it back up, leaving a snow-ridge at the bottom of the window. The result? Visibility. Yes, I have an ice scraper in my car, but under the circumstances the lazy snow removal method was sufficient.

The familiar crunch of snow under my tires made me smile as I rolled down the driveway and headed to a favorite park on a river.  I slid through the first stop sign. Yeah, time to be mindful of winter driving. It reminded me of some of the thoughts I’ve had when I have meet someone who is new to Minnesota, facing their first winter. They’ve said things like “Yeah, I just moved here from Southern California.” Or, “Yeah, I just moved here from Texas.” And I’ve wondered what it will be like for them to learn how to navigate winter driving. I grew up with it and still have issues sometimes. 

I tend to offer new-to-snow-residents unsolicited advice. I consider how difficult it would be for me to live in a warm climate during summer months. The heat would do me in. I would need somebody to help me figure out how to manage it. So my advice is usually something like, “Well, buy a pair of snowshoes and enjoy the snow” or “Don’t forget to take up a winter sport because that is how you learn to love winter.” I’ve also added something annoying, like, “You know what they say, there’s no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.” (Insert eye roll emoji.)

I do believe, as an adult, getting through winter entails one of two things: stay indoors as much as possible or find an outdoor activity you like. As a kid, winter was easy to love. I remember the days of dressing in a snowsuit before going outside to build forts in the snow with my brothers and sisters (or neighborhood friends). We stayed outside, creating with snow, for hours.  

We were snow lovers. The cold didn’t seem to bother us at all! I also spent a lot of time at a neighborhood rink, ice skating after supper until the rink attendant said it was time to go home. That was where I learned how to ice skate, on an outdoor rink with 20 other kids and hockey pucks flying past my legs. 

I remember taking off my skates, putting on winter boots, and walking home. Once inside, my feet would hurt so badly as they warmed up because I had been outside in the cold for such a long time. How was it I never got frostbite I will never know! But I didn’t, and I still love winter. These days I make less snow forts and do less skating. I enjoy hiking or snowshoeing, depending upon the depth of snow. 

Once at the park, I walked outside; the wind had picked up and it was brisk, but the snow was heavy and made a nice crunching sound as I stepped toward the river. I scooped some up and compressed it with my hands. Perfect for a snowman or a snowball fight!

I stayed by the river until light began to creep into the sky; I was getting cold (not the weather’s fault, I had inappropriate clothing!). I headed home, thinking about more snow. My snowshoes are unpacked and waiting in my living room. I checked out the weather forecast and saw a slight chance for snow later in the week. Now that Mother Nature has gotten the (snow) ball rolling, maybe I’ll get an opportunity for snowshoeing in the woods before Christmas arrives. Looking at the December forecast, it doesn’t look very promising. But one thing I’ve learned about the weather forecast is it changes.

Dear Santa: All I want for Christmas is a foot of snow. What a gift that would be!