Snow – An Unexpected Blessing
Once upon a time, when my brother and I were very small, we used to get terribly excited over the prospect of the first snowfall of the season. When it became that time of year and the first flakes started to drift to the ground, my mother would announce in a very excited voice, “Come look, it’s snowing!” and my bro and I would run down the hall and press our faces against the glass on the storm door and gaze with wonder at the magical flakes cascading down from the sky. Inevitably it was after dark when this would happen which only added to the mystery and enchantment. It seemed so magical then. There was a palpable sense of something ethereal unfolding and a profound happiness bore down to the very core of my soul as I witnessed those sparkly gems float to the earth.
Later, as a teenager I loved to take my horse out for a ride on moonlit winter nights, traversing hundreds of acres of wide open fields and woodlands uninterrupted by roads and other evidence of human existence. My folks live on top of a picturesque hill overlooking an incredible valley, so I would end my ride at the peak, getting off my horse, turning her loose to paw at the snow and graze on anything she could find, while I lay on my back in the snow. I would stare up at the winter stars and moon (btw, there’s no full moon bigger or brighter than a February moon shining over my farm in NY), my view unobstructed by obnoxious light pollution from the city, and if I was lucky, those magical crystalline flakes would silently fall from the heavens, gently swirling around my upturned face. It was so peaceful and serene. I loved those moments! They soothed my soul and quieted any teenage angst lingering in my heart. God Himself spoke to my soul in those sublime hours I lay sprawled out on my back on the top of that snow-covered mountain with my horse pawing and snorting plumes of steam a few feet away.
Then I grew up. I moved off the farm, and made my life in town. And something dark and insidious took the place of the peace and tranquility that used to fill my heart when it would snow. Slowly, I became hardened to the beauty and magic of it all and became depressed and bitter over the gray skies, dreary days, FREEZING temps, and endless mountains of dirty, sludgy piles of frozen misery filling every available space. I had to drive in the stuff, shovel the stuff, and look at the stuff for months on end and it seemed like it would never go away. I learned to curse the stuff. Approaching the Fall of 1997 I had had enough. I couldn’t take another winter of misery so I packed up my family and moved us to the hope of happy times the sultry South offered with her seductive promises of sunshine and blue skies. I told my family that if they wanted to see me for Christmas, they would have to make the trek to me because I would never go back home in the winter as long as I live. And for 15 years I’ve held firm in that conviction and have only traveled back home in the Spring, Summer, and Fall.
Until this year . . .
January 26th 2013 marked my dad’s 80th birthday and a huge celebration was planned. One of my aunts was gracious enough (and insistent enough) to help me travel back home via airplane (I still resolutely refuse to drive through the Poconos in the winter!). I was a little apprehensive knowing that I’d be back home during the dreariest part of the year and the forecasted temps for my visit was to be at or below zero at night and only in the single digits or low teens for the day. ~Heavy sigh~ This was the very thing I moved away from. But it was my Dad’s birthday and I wanted to surprise him (and everyone) with my visit and this was an occasion that I really shouldn’t miss. Sooooo I braved the possibilities of flight delays and cancellations, packed my warmest clothes, said many prayers and off I went.
Well, for the record, simply spending time with my family made it all worth breaking my stubborn vow. I thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship and bonding, but another unexpected joy beyond my anything I could have imagined took me by complete surprise. It began to snow one night. And not just any snow; MAGIC snow!!
That’s right – just like when my bro and I were 5 years old with our faces pressed against the glass – it was that magical snow that makes everything right. It was so cold that the snow looked like crystals in the hovering in the air and it spread out on the ground like a sprinkling of diamonds. The snow, glistening and shimmering, danced to life before my eyes under the glow of the full moon. (You really have to stand in the middle of it to appreciate the magic). Oh, and it crunched under my feet!! I had forgotten how it did that. I couldn’t believe it, but I missed that! It awakened a part of me that I had forgotten existed. The next day the sun shone on the fresh fallen snow so that it blinded me with a myriad of colors reflected from the prisms of the snow crystals. Although the temps were well below freezing, I didn’t feel cold. I was enraptured and felt more peace in my heart than I’ve felt in many, many years. I was 15 again laying on the top of the hill with my horse a few feet away. . .
A trip home in the winter wouldn’t be complete without coming down sick with a sinus infection (they call our area Sinus Valley for a reason) and I caught a doozie! Because my congestion was exacerbated by the hot, dry air from the wood furnace, I couldn’t sleep very well, so I would get up in the middle of the night and just stay up until morning. My Dad (even though he wasn’t sick) would get up and join me in the living room and we whiled away the hours talking and laughing, and in general, solving the problems of the world. In the minutes just before daybreak he and I would stand in the middle of the house and through the floor-to-ceiling windows watch the moon setting on one side and turn around to watch the sun rising on the other. For a brief, spellbinding moment each morning, we saw the light simultaneously reflecting from both heavenly bodies on the fresh-fallen snow and it was BEYOND beautiful; it was MAGICAL. And it was beyond special to share those precious moments with my Dad! Thank you God for snow – magical, beautiful, healing, snow! A part of me I didn’t even know was missing was restored by this unlikeliest of substances.
Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
~Robert Frost, New Hampshire 1923