It’s snowing like crazy! We don’t always get snowy winters here in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, even when we do get snow, it’s usually incredibly short-lived. Today, however, the North Wind is blowing up a storm of snow and our world is covered in six and a half inches of winter wonderland. The week of Christmas, too!
Pacific Northwestern Kids
When I was in middle school there was a big snow that settled in for what felt like ages. School was cancelled. We lived on a glorious hill. And so, we sledded from the time we got up, until we got called in for bed. There were plenty of hot cocoa breaks by the warm wood stove. We’d hang out just long enough to thaw out. For feeling to return to fingers and toes before putting our wet clothes back on and dashing back out into the elements. I remember one of my sisters smelled like a wet puppy for days.
Slog up. Slide down. Endlessly. All the while wet and freezing. But laughing and yelling with our friends like we were having the time of our lives. And we were. Us Pacific Northwestern kids knew how to savor a good, sticking, snow.
It doesn’t sound that appealing to me right now though. From my cozy warm office, watching the blizzard out the window. My socks are still a little damp from stepping out on the deck to measure the snow. I’m contemplating putting on dry ones. I like to avoid discomfort. But as that kid slogging up, sliding down endlessly, discomfort was irrelevant. And the snow made us crazy with life!
Snow In The Midwest
For nearly twenty-five years, I lived in Minnesota where the snow reality was a presence sometimes up to 6 months out of the year. In the Midwest, so much snow falls that oftentimes there is a layer of it packed down on the streets in towns. People just drive on it like it’s no big deal. Huge parking lots like Walmart can have multiple mounds of scooped-up snow fifteen feet high and more so their customers can still have a few places to park. These weird mounds last well into the spring months when the rest of the world is greening.
I lived in a sweet little town called Janesville. For years there were grain silos at the edge of town painted in rainbow colors, welcoming people in. J A N E S V I L L E. It was a wonderful way to come home.
We lived on Main Street across from the football field that the high school used for practice. In the winter, the city would set up a boundary and flood part of the field for an ice-skating rink. They’d bring in great big lights for nighttime skating. It was magical. My Gram had given me her ice skates from when we took lessons together. With three growing boys and their countless friends, we accumulated ice skates in nearly every size. It was positively dreamy. I felt like I was living in a Norman Rockwell painting.
My Frozen Lake
Just down the road from our house was a bike trail that led out to a good-sized lake. When there was a fresh snow, I’d don my long johns and warmest gear, snap into my cross-country skis and glide down to the lake. In the Midwest, these lakes freeze hard. Like, people drive their trucks out there to drill holes in the ice and fish. They put up little shack-like structures with heaters and mini fridges and TVs and spend entire days out there.
As a single human on skis, though, there was no worry about the ice holding up under me. It was otherworldly out in the middle of the lake. On the ice. In the snow. Sometimes it was silent. Sometimes, the gusting, keening North Wind.
Those were dark days for me. I would push myself as hard as I could, feverish and sweating. Straining to locate the outer edges of myself. To the periphery of my world where I hoped I could outrun the chaos and fear. In the middle of the lake, frozen, sweating, heavy breathing shards of winter into my lungs, I felt my life. In that place, it was good.
Seeing The World Differently
Winter has been a real ally of mine. The snow and freeze somehow driving me to the center of myself. Where my life force thrums along. From this place on the inside of me I get a sense that everything is going to be ok.
On the outside, the wide world, which is so beautiful to begin with, has been bathed in the purest, whitest, fluffiest offering from the heavens. It calls to us to see the world we know, differently. The edges are a little softer. Light is reflecting a little brighter. There is a lovely opportunity to see the usual things in an unusual way. What a sweet gift to us this week before Christmas.
If you loved the snow as a kid, if winter brings you joy or fear, if you need reassurance that your life force is still thrumming you along, or if you’d like to see the usual things in a new way, let’s be friends~