Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Snow Days


I remember winters as a child growing up in Chicago and later in a suburb northwest of the city. Snow seemed ever present for much of my younger years and built hills perfect for sledding from the back of my family's home, down into a large parkway that fronted a creek. I remember hours of sledding and building snowmen and having snowball battles, laughing and loving all the white winter fun.

Of course, I remember these events through a child's eyes, a skewed perspective affected by a child's main focus: play. This is the opposite of the adult forced to accommodate boots dripping near the back door, wet clothes to dry, kids to bundle up again and again, hot chocolate and possibly extra kids in the house adding chaos.

Beyond the kid-side, adults were also in charge of shoveling driveways and sidewalks again and again. They had to navigate slippery streets, keep food in the house, continue the normal daily chores along with all the extras winter dumps without regard for anyone's schedule.

I don't remember much about this side of life. Not until I became a parent could I comprehend the seamless weaving of joy, work, play and discipline that comes with the role. By the time I brought my first child into this world, I'd left the cold Midwest for the warmer climes of northwest Oregon. We still had snow, but with less frequency, generally less depth and almost always gone within days, no lingering gray slush waiting for spring's arrival.

Playing in the snow with my kids and their friends was a delight for me. I loved having the chaos of a house filled with young voices, making hot chocolate, pizza, popcorn, and more for these winter-wrapped youngsters. I didn't mind the wet clothes and boots. I loved when schools were closed so we could enjoy a rare treat - rare for this part of Oregon.

And then it would be gone. We had to embrace whatever we received as soon as it arrived because it often began to disappear by the end of the day. A few storms lasted longer, but most were a very temporary affair.

Watching the winter wildness affecting much of the Midwest and East Coast states right now, I have compassion for their dilemma. And though I miss the fun of the pure quiet that sometimes arrives with a fresh snowfall, I don't miss the mess of prolonged winter weather.

Come to think of it, our weather has been skewed in the warm direction for several years. Snowfall times have been more occasional than I remember enjoying when my children (now adults) had the pleasure of experiencing snow right outside their front door. My grandkids haven't enjoyed near the number of snow days their parents did, and it takes driving into the mountains before that pleasure can be found.

I miss it, but don't miss the ice and other driving - or walking - hazards. This year, I'm vicariously enjoying everyone else's snow.