“First snow! First snow!” We’d scramble for the closet, skittering across polished wood floor. We couldn’t get our boots and coats, mittens and hats “don’t forget your scarves” on fast enough. “First snow! First snow!” even if there was only the hint of white descending. We’d tumble out the front door, mad dash down the porch steps to stand with our tongues out to taste the snowflakes. “Vanilla.” White chocolate.” “Marshmallow.”
When the snow was just right – fluffy, puffy snow like clouds and down comforters – we’d line ourselves up – fingers of outstretched arms touching, measuring the distance. Fall backwards into the goose down snow to make snow angels. The tallest, me, in the middle with younger brother and sister on either side; once we had counted our sweeps (at least 10!), we’d slowly, carefully, pull each other back up, and look at masterpieces – the three prefect angels. Our mother would watch from the porch, laughing, at the thought of us ever being “perfect angels.”
There was snowpeople snow – a special snow with just the right amount of stickum and just the right depth to create snow images of ourselves. Rolled to scale, sorta, these winter doppelgangers wore our unraveling scarves around their necks, hats with holes on their heads, and mismatched mittens dangled on the stick “fingers.” Sometimes, they guarded the porch, or the front yard, or . . . snowball fight, snowball fight … our fortresses.
Tired and happy, we’d tumble into the kitchen carried in on the aroma of hot chocolate. Cocoa, milk, sugar, steamed up from the mugs we wrapped our cold fingers around.
Sometimes, it was cathedral snow – a shimmery, shiny coating made the snow glow orange, yellow, bright blue, and diamond bright. Like we imagined the stained glass windows in big churches did. We held tight to the sides of the porch, skidding, slipping, to see the color change with the time of the day, the lay of the light. If we were brave, bold, and unseen, we’d test our balance or slide on our bottoms – the temptation of outdoors and winter just too much. Back then, nothing could stop us.
For us, winter wasn’t any less wondrous of a season because of cold, ice and snow – if anything, it made it more special. We didn’t think of winter as dangerous; a season of tragedy, destruction, and loss; of struggles to keep warm in jackets, homes, and shelters; of shovel-chores, ice-chipping, window-scraping.
“First snow,” I hear the little one squeal, “first snow!” I stand with my tongue out to taste the vanilla, white chocolate, marshmallow flakes.
I set out to write about nature vs man via bears. I have lots of bear stories but this silly “first snow” story kept popping up just as I was building up suspense concerning one of my several bear encounters. So, I gave in. Left the bears in the woods, and brought out kids vs snow.