Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river and the heaven,
And veils the farmhouse at the garden’s end.
The steed and traveler stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.
Last night it snowed, just a little bit, just enough to cover the grass in a cloak of white. The velvet surface was broken here and there by the prints left by the wild creatures–raccoons, opossum, and maybe even deer that wandered through our yard in the darkness. The air was still. It was magical—until the reality of scraping ice off of cars and clearing steps set in.
Children experience the magic of snow for a far longer period. They feel anticipation and delight in the falling flakes, the crunch of boots through the frosted surface, the glee of making angels and snow creatures, and the joy of having an unexpected vacation from school to stay in pajamas and drink hot chocolate.
In Dallas, snow appears occasionally, but not often, and usually only in trace amounts. As children, my younger sister and I were so excited when it did appear. We took turns trying to pull each other around our yard on the sleds stored in our garage. They were real sleds made of wood with sharp steel runners, relics from our life in Philadelphia. My older brother, away at college, had probably used one of them to slide down hills in Germantown with his friends. Of course, they were not of much use in the minute amount of snow that dusted our Dallas backyard.
During our Christmas breaks from school, my family usually traveled back north to Philadelphia to visit with family and friends. We often stayed at a downtown Sheraton Hotel. From the wide windows of our hotel room, my sister and I gazed down at the tiny ice skaters gliding across the ice at the Penn Center Ice Skating Rink. We watched them twirl and sometimes fall. There was a wide ledge under the window that sat over the room’s heater and air conditioning unit. On one visit, perhaps bored with watching ice skaters, my younger sister and I marched back and forth across that ledge singing an advertising jingle, “Franco-American where sauce is king.” Seeing how annoying it was to our older sister, we continued to do it over and over and over again, until we finally collapsed in laughter.
One day while staying at that Sheraton, my family boarded the subway to visit my dad’s best friend, a doctor, and his family. It was just beginning to snow as we walked to the subway’s entrance. It was still snowing when we arrived, and it continued to snow through the night. We were snowed-in! My mother was probably not pleased, and she was concerned that we didn’t have snow boots and other snow gear. None of that mattered to me. Here was real snow that could be played in and formed into snowmen. We were having a real adventure. At some point—I can’t remember if it was that night or the next day—my father and his friend trudged through the snow to a Jewish delicatessen. They returned with enough food to feed us–and several other families, should any happen to wander in through the snow—if need be, for days. The large, dining room table was piled high with bagels, lox, rye bread, corned beef, and other delicatessen staples. (Yes, my love of food is inherited.) I don’t know where my parents slept that night, but my younger sister and I bedded down on the carpeted floor of the bedroom of one the teenage daughters of the household. Warm and cozy under a layer of blankets, we dozed off to the chatter of the older girls and were content.
I don’t particularly love the snow. I don’t go sledding, skiing, or ice skating. If ever forced to do so, I would be the person sitting inside the lodge with a warm cup of coffee in my hand and a good book on my lap. I’ve been through other snowstorms since that long ago time in Philadelphia, and I’ve experienced “the magic of snow” with my own daughters. Still, I guess it’s true what they say: you never forget your first. . .snowstorm.