The Blizzard

The morning sun heats us to 35 degrees this morning. Compared to the recent temperatures, this is a heat wave. My state missed the blizzard that ripped up the east coast and dropped heavy and huge amounts of the white stuff on several coastal states, including Pennsylvania, my state of origin.

I’ve experienced several nor’easters in my lifetime and actually hold fond memories of the tough stuff Nature slings with deep snow and heavy winds accompanied by dangerous temperatures and treacherous travel.

I recall my first big snow, though likely not blizzard. The automobiles on the street were covered completely, but I think it was only about depth, and not dangerous. The first year out of the orphanage,my brother and I got sleds for Christmas. In a whole morning, in falling snow, we learned to use them. High levels of sledding burn physical fuel at rates like the furnace in the house. We were never cold, even if wet.

We joined the townies on the hill at Leaman Place, sledding smack into trees in the apple orchard, rolling off our sleds into deep snow, hauling them back to the top of the hill and rocketing back down, hoping to dodge the next tree. All day, and many introductions to numerous trees meant we’d sleep like the dead when night fell. But in those hours we experienced what most kids already knew: complete freedom to just play unsupervised, making new friends and coming to know it was okay to be out on our own.

I recall another snowstorm when I was an adult, in another place, with a husband,  a child and a standard poodle. We lived on the edge of a commercial orchard which butted right up to our own property. In the evening, after a three day snowfall, all of us bundled up,  only our eyes showing, stepped out into a cold starry night, and stopped on the dime to listen to the silence. The whole earth lay still beneath a dome of navy velvet softly lit with brilliant moonlight. Mesmerized, my husband and I stared through the icy blanket of cold at the silver disc above us, looking close enough to touch.

A young child and a young dog yipped together to get moving, so we lifted our legs high through the piles of white toward the waiting orchard. We each held a hand of our toddler, lifting her across the snow so we could keep her head above its surface. The dog bounded in it, barking at the top of his voice, beside himself with joy. Snow packed itself  in the webbing between his toes, forcing him to stop and chew out the cause of his pain, and then, undaunted, bounded forward ahead of us only to turn around to bark that we were going too slow.

The distance was a mere half mile of slog, usually covered in ten minutes, but this night the trip needed a half hour. We had to work to traverse the distance in virgin, untouched snow. The rosy cheeked kid chortled her pleasure at being swung by her arms above the snow with no effort from her. The dog hardly stopped barking, nearly overcome by his genetic response to his first decent snow. Ever after, when snow fell in large amounts, he’d run to me, put his paws on my shoulders, look intently into my eyes and yip to go out. And he didn’t mean for potty purposes. He wanted a long walk and serious play with his favorite playmate. I couldn’t resist.

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