Snuggle time, making soup time, looking out at the world and being glad you’re inside time. Obviously, I’m an indoor girl. Didn’t used to be — of course, once dressed in snowpants, boots, mittens, sweaters, parka, hood, about the only thing I could do outside during or after a snow was to make snow angels, and then I could hardly get back up. But I loved to look up and try to catch snowflakes in my mouth, let them melt on my tongue. Such a clear, cold taste.
And after the snow, when it would get cold and crisp, walking on the snow made a scrunching sound unlike any other sound I’ve ever heard. I was a child in Greeley, Colorado, and often after a snow would come a hard freeze which would leave a crust on the snow that, at the time, I was small enough to walk on if I was careful. I would try for the longest series of steps possible before breaking through the snow crust. Of course, I eventually would, and that usually would mean I would fall down, but falling down on a foot of snow when you’re eight years old and washing your face with snow is fun, not any kind of problem.
But as I grew up, snow got to be a problem at times. Sometimes more than a problem. How was it that it always snowed on Sunday night, thus making sleep impossible because I would worry so over the commute to work? Especially the first snow. It is a tradition in Denver, it seems, to have a first snow in October. Coloradans and Denverites are never ready for it and seem to have forgotten how to drive in the stuff over the summer. The first commute during the first snow was an adventure in terror, pretty much every year. Sliding sideways down a hill toward a red traffic light on the bottom, realizing dully that the light would still be red when your car slide not to it but through it, now that’s an experience I wish I had missed.
I lived in Wyoming once and tried to transport props for a play I was directing from Rock Springs to Green River on the interstate on a late fall Sunday. A truly Wyoming blizzard blew up and suddenly my car was spinning just like a top in the middle of the road. The car behind me could not avoid my inadvertent ballerina move and both cars embraced with a clang. A couple more joined our intricate (and frightening) dance before all of us fetched up against the rocks to the side of the road, where we stayed for over three hours before the Highway Patrol could sort us out. Freezing, terrifying, snow. Driving in the stuff has, since then, been an issue. It is always a problem when your mortality rises up and slaps you. When I moved back to Estes Park, I deliberately chose to buy an AWD vehicle, a Nissan Murano (wonderful car), that ameliorates the problem and my concern at least a little. But there are times even Tina (originally named “Tiny” ironically for her rather substantial size, but she didn’t seem to like it, so “Tina” it is) can’t get her tires under her and slips rather than glides through the white stuff.
When I lived in New York, I was rather surprised at the relative paucity of snow, at least while I lived there (they seem to have made up for it by now). The difference seemed to be that any snow they got just stuck around until spring. In the West, the wind whips the snow around so much that locals say that snow doesn’t melt, it just gets wore out. So it was always fun to try to get from (plowed) sidewalk to (plowed) roadway with the piled up snow having turned to ice in between. Twisted ankle heaven. I didn’t have a car then, but I did have to get into the city to work, so while the subway didn’t slip and slide (at least not for that reason), the bus I used to get to the subway certainly did.
So, when I moved back to Estes, it was with the implicit realization and blessing that now if the snow was just too slippery out there, I could stay in here, free from the necessity to brave the elements, twist my ankles, fall down or slide through traffic lights. Instead, now I could smugly look out at the beauty of the snow with an unambiguous heart. (Sort of. Today is also chore day, trash must be put out to be picked up tomorrow, and my driveway is so steep it often feels, especially when it is wet or icy, as if it had been constructed at a 45 degree angle. Sigh.)
But that’s done now, and the soup is on, making the house fragrant. Here’s hoping that your next snow day, if such you have, allows you to stay inside and make soup and enjoy the warmth and contrast with the out-of-doors or, if you’d rather, go out and make snow angels and taste snowflakes. Just stay off the highways. Those red traffic lights are traps on a snow day.