If I close my eyes, I can remember it so clearly…
Still mostly dark, the wind swirled the snow around, back up, around in circles, and then downward. A quick glance out of the frosty, single-paned window showed no sign of our car, our driveway … just a white blanket of peaks and valleys, peaceful under the break of dawn.
As I climbed out of my warm bed, shimmied my feet into my slippers, and made my way down the long, straight staircase, I followed the unmistakable crackle of my mother’s search for a radio station that would offer an updated list of school closures.
Kneeling before the stereo, I waited as they listed school after school: Augusta, Fairfield, Oakland, Skowhegan, Waterville, Winslow. Yes! A snow day!
And in that small moment, the day before me felt as though it held the potential for wonder and magic.
It was as though the hours ahead were gifted just to me.
Hours that allowed me to play in my nightgown, the softest lawn of flannel with the tiniest of pink rosebuds scattered across it, until the snow beckoned me outside, until I would lay out my snowsuit, hat, mittens, scarf.
Hours to build forts and bring snowmen into being and make snow angels just to see them fill back in before my eyes.
Hours to come inside just long enough to warm up and don fresh mittens and hat. Long enough to place my boots near the radiator to warm and dry them. Long enough for a mug warm, thick cocoa.
My children will never know this simple joy of these stolen days.
They’ll never know the way that snow balls up on your mittens and freezes there.
They’ll never know how long it takes to get into a snowsuit, force their boots on over two pair of socks, and that sting of a frozen nose. They’ll never know fuschia cheeks from the bite of cold.
They’ll never be able to distinguish between the type of snow that makes a perfect snowman, the right snow for sledding, or the consistency of snow that is just perfect for snow angels.
They won’t know the way the sky darkens in the late afternoon and how the snow simply sparkles in the waning light.
They won’t know firsthand that no two snowflakes are alike…that they are tiny crystals, each lovely in its uniqueness.
The beauty of a blizzard, of being forced to stay home and live simply while waiting for it to pass, will be unfamiliar to them.
They won’t know of board games played by candlelight, the warmth of their mother’s smile in the warm glow.
I wish they could know the quiet of a blizzard, how the snow buffers the world around it and makes everything just a bit more beautiful.
There are so many things about my childhood that I hope they’ll never experience.
But the magic of winter? Oh, how I wish they could know the joy of school cancellations and snow days.
Of stolen moments of pure childhood joy.