I love a good snow. Don't get me wrong - I love a gentle dusting, or when big flakes fall but don't stick. But what I really love is snow that makes travel difficult, that blankets the neighborhood in the beautiful, clean white. It's the best when it snows overnight, when you wake up to a world that looks completely different than the one you said goodnight to.
My dad, who grew up in South Bend, gave me the snow bug. He may live in Kentucky, but he has a heart for snow. When I was young, he would take me and my brothers on at least one winter trip just to experience a 'real' snow. Growing up in central Kentucky we didn't get a lot of snow, but at least a few good snowfalls every winter, and maybe one unexpected snow near Spring break. If it started snowing at night, Dad would get his boots and gloves on and go out and shovel the neighbor's sidewalks. Starting when I was 10 years old, or so, I began tagging along. I had always loved the snow, but these nighttime snow-shoveling adventures sealed my love affair with the frozen world.
My dad is a man of few words. Unless he's working, that is. As Dad works, he talks. He'll share wisdom, stories from childhood, co-workers, and we he dated my mom. Shoveling at night, when the world was quiet and sleepy, was pure magic. The glitter of snowflakes under the glow of the streetlights was ethereal, each flake dancing it's way down to the ground to rest after its long journey. The scrape of the shovel against the sidewalk found it's own rhythm, sprinkled with quiet talk between Dad and me. The gratification of working hard was well worth cold toes. The added incentive was the hot cocoa or tea Mom had waiting for us.
A forecast for snow was always best received on school days, though. The neighborhood kids would meet for sledding, snowball fights, and snow forts, going home only when we were too numb to play. As we grew older, and more industrious, my group of friends would shovel sidewalks for a little cash. There were usually 4 or 5 of us willing to start early in the morning. I'm sure it was our own families who were paying us, and a handful of other neighbors willing to support our endeavor. We would shovel, and play, and then shovel some more. Then, toward lunchtime, we would pool our earnings together and hike the few blocks up to the local pizza parlor, Giovanni's, to buy as many pizzas as our money would buy.
I'm sure the woman, who seemed always present there, came to expect us on snowy days. She welcomed us in, helped us figure out what we could order, and let us dirty up the floors with our snow boots. We would feed our quarters to the juke box (the song 'Elvira' was a favorite in early years, ) and play Pac Man til our fingers were bruised. It was glorious.
The first winter my future husband and I dated, Lexington was hit with a major snow and ice storm...but that's a post for another day. Needless to say, that experience did not end my love affair with wintry weather.
Now that I'm older, I see the hard work that goes into letting kids go out and play in the snow. It means extra laundry, extra mess, and extra cold toes, but I love it. I can't resist tromping around in the snow with them. Watching my kids discover snow forts hidden beneath drooping bushes, catching snowflakes on their tongues, and examining the uniqueness of snowflakes that land on their gloves or coats, transports me back to my idyllic childhood. Witnessing their wonder awakens that part of me that sometimes falls asleep and leaves me dozing at the wheel. Snow days force me to take a break from the mundane and take part in the true joy of living.
And that is magic, my friends.