On Feb. 12 it snowed. And not just a wimpy snow. An actual good snow. A snow where you could go outside and play. Make a snowman. Make a snow fort. Have a snowball fight. Fall on your belly and not break your teeth.
I love snow and have been impatiently waiting all winter for decent accumulation. I know there are many who profusely disagree with me. That’s OK. You guys can dream of flip flops in -3 degree windchills. I’ll just put on my snow boots, new winter coat, hat and gloves. You know, appropriate winter attire. Once it’s summer, I’ll join you in flip flops and be glad about it.
My love for winter is inherited. I come from a family of snow lovers, and I’m proud of it. My mom still gets giddy for snowfall, and we often text each other back and forth with winter weather updates. Before his retirement, my dad even worked for a company with the motto, “Think Snow.” For a salt mine, it is appropriate, and I’m definitely on-board with the concept.
My siblings love snow, too. As kids, we spent hours in the evergreen tree line that bordered the north side of our yard. The wind would blow snow off the fields and into the trees, making for amazing drifts to play in. It was always exciting when the drifts would pile higher than our hips. We would work diligently, making forts and snow tunnel slides. One time I took a test run and got stuck. Turns out my shoulders were the widest part of me. I would have made it through if I had gone hands first instead of head first. Luckily Dad was home to rescue me, pulling me out by my feet.
My parents never balked at taking us sledding either. We lived just east of the Kanopolis Lake, down in the valley. You can see my parents’ farm if you drive over the dam, so really, it took more time for us to each put on our winter gear than it did to arrive at a perfect sledding hill. I’ve never lost my love for the feel of zipping down a snow-covered hill, wind biting my cheeks and nose. It is thrilling. Sadly, it’s not a feeling my kids are well-acquainted with considering the winters have been so full of dud lately.
One time my dad took my sister and me sledding at a different hill. It was bigger than the dam but also dotted with trees. On one of my first runs I managed to get myself positioned directly in line with a substantial tree. With a saucer, you don’t have much control. Thinking back, I could have tipped myself over, but I didn’t. The tree was coming fast and I braced myself for impact. All of a sudden, I remember Dad racing past me, taking the brunt of my impact. He rescued me again. Are you noticing a theme? After that, we packed up and went to our regular hill. The straight-shot down, void of trees, was appealing.
I hope my kids all inherited this family trait, too, because their Dad’s side is a different story. I’m trying my best to foster this love, at least. Last year was the first time my son got to experience sledding. We went to their grandparents’ farm but soon discovered the hill we had previously used had shrunk. The kids have outgrown it, and I haven’t found a replacement hill around here yet. It was still fun, but you just don’t get the same thrill when the ride is cut short.
When we can, the kids and I always try to build something out of snow. Last year with the one decent snowfall we had, we built a family hedgehog. KWCH featured our submitted photo on several broadcasts. During our recent snow we built a snowman. My daughter picked out one of her stocking caps with a nice yarn poof on top. We painted eyes, nose and mouth with sidewalk chalk. It was cute. Then the cold front came through that evening and with it a howling north wind. The snowman just wasn’t a fan of the Kansas wind and it started to bend over. I was surprised it was still in a modified standing position when morning arrived. I think that might be what a flash freeze looks like.
Our neighbors, whom we’re fortunate to also call friends, worked hard on an amazing snow fort. They made blocks of snow and stacked them, giving the fort an igloo flair. My kids jumped in toward the end to help. Eventually the group morphed to a snowball fight but abandoned the fort in the process.
By this point, I’m sure the naysayers have quit reading. Or else they are screaming at me to stop. Don’t worry, I’m almost done. Then again, perhaps I’ve swayed you to appreciate the fun adventure of a good snowfall. Sure, driving isn’t always fun. It’s also a shame when the pure white bliss is destroyed with muddy tires and slop. I’m not one to bypass reality. Even so, I still enjoyed the gift of snow even as our sliding van doors froze shut in the sub-zero windchills. Sure, we held up the elementary school car line—thank you all from refraining from your horns—but we also added another memorable family moment. I found myself chuckling at the adventure of it all as my kids clamored over the front seat to exit the van.
Despite the freeze-up, I still say, “think snow.” You can keep your flip flops until summer.
Malinda Just has been writing Lipstick & Pearls for the Free Press since 2008. To read more of her writing, visit her blog, www.malindajust.com.