by Rosalys 1/26/16
Some years ago, we here in Rhode Island we were experiencing a summer of plentiful rainfall. During one such rainfall, I was waiting in line at a store behind a man, and we began to talk about, what else? The weather. Like most people he was complaining. Not wanting to appear unsympathetic, I commiserated with him, but added, “However, it’s better than the alternative.” At first he gave me a quizzical look; then I watched as it dawned on him. “Oh, I get it! You mean snow. I hear ya!” he said, while nodding his head in a spirit of camaraderie. (Well, no, not really. I had been remembering that we were coming out of a drought of several years; the grass was green, and the world of natural was happy again. But I kept my thoughts to myself.) He then added, “I only like it when it snows at Christmas.”
I take issue the whole idea that the only thing worse than rain is snow. Humanity can be divided into two groups – those who like snow and those who don’t.
The group that likes snow includes:
1) Just about all children
2) Skiers, snowboarders, and other winter sport enthusiasts
3) Adults who just like snow, because they like snow
People, like my acquaintance in the waiting line, who “only like snow at Christmas” don’t really like snow. What they like is a little free decoration on Christmas Day, and the only reason they think they like that is because Bing Crosby made a movie and sang a song. On Boxing Day, when they have to shovel their driveway, parking spot or sidewalk, they don’t like it anymore. Most of the world will never see snow on Christmas anyway. Certainly the southern hemisphere won’t, and much of the northern hemisphere is tropical or semi-tropical. Even in Rhode Island, many years we won’t see any snow until January, February or even March. (One year, when I was still in high school, our first storm arrived on Easter Sunday. Two weeks later came storm number two, and a third, two weeks later. These were good storms of twelve to eighteen inches and perfectly timed – Sunday night into Monday morning and NO SCHOOL! Yay!)
Rarely we may even experience a winter with no snow.
I like snow, because I like snow. When I was a kid it meant NO SCHOOL, snowmen, snow forts, snow angels, snowballs, eating snow (only the white, undisturbed stuff!) and just jumping, and messing around in the snow. It was a great opportunity for kids to make money. You used to see boys trekking the streets looking for driveways that hadn’t been shoveled yet. At five dollars each, my brother could make up to fifteen dollars per snowstorm. Kids don’t do that anymore. They certainly wouldn’t for five dollars (nowadays, you wouldn’t get anyone to spit on your driveway for five dollars!) but I don’t think they would do it even for twenty-five.
For some reason, girls weren’t expected to shovel driveways. I shoveled my first driveway when I was thirteen. There was a purse I wanted, and I bargained with Dad to let me shovel the driveway for seven dollars. (I had only just started babysitting, and at fifty cents an hour I just wasn’t able to save up enough before someone else bought my purse!)
This was not my last driveway. I never did it for money again, and I never did my parents’ driveway again; that was my brother’s or Dad’s job. But when I got married I found myself doing most of the shoveling. My husband didn’t make me. He isn’t a tyrant, cracking the whip behind me as I perform brutish tasks. One morning he left for work, snow on the ground, but no time to clean it up. I decided to get it done before he came home and discovered I quite liked it. It was the beginning of a long friendship between me and my favorite shovel – a lightweight, orange plastic thing with a shallow scoop. It’s perfect for the task! I still have it. It’s worn at the edge and has a crack in it and I finally replaced it with another just like it (for many years I couldn’t find one!) but I still keep it, because on occasion my husband helps me and he prefers that model, too. I’ve shoveled driveways for some elderly or sickly friends. One friend, though appreciative, said I shouldn’t be doing that heavy work. After several times, she started hiring someone to do it. I couldn’t make her understand that I <i>liked</i> doing it. I’m not alone. I’ve met a number of women who have confessed to this secret pleasure. I don’t ski or snowboard, and there are as of yet no grandchildren to build snow stuff, and go sledding with; shoveling affords me the opportunity to play in the snow without looking senile.
Walking in a gentle snowfall is lovely, muffling all the sounds of traffic. A warm coat, a knitted hat, boots, gloves, a smile on my face and I’m good to go. When it’s a blizzard, you wrap up in a blanket with a good book, a cup of tea, and a view out the window to watch it snow and listen to the wind howl. That’s called hunkering down! Too many folks don’t appreciate hunkering.
Nowadays the plows are out round the clock clearing the roads at the same time that our would be tyrants are telling us to stay home. When I was a kid, the plows wouldn’t start cleaning up until the snow stopped falling. I’m not sure when that all changed. I remember in 1975 driving home from work in snow that was at that point almost ten inches deep and still falling. I got behind a behind an eighteen-wheeler and stayed in his tracks. It was a good plan and it worked! Of course, we in the lands of regular snowfall know how to drive in the snow, and we take pride in it. We have a tendency to look down our noses at places paralyzed by an inch and a half of snow. It’s our own little snobbery and I suppose we shouldn’t do it. (By “we” and “our” I really mean “I” and “my” – because I am very guilty of this!) There is no reason why someone who has lived his whole life surrounded by palm trees, to know how to deal with, or drive in the snow.
Meteorologists like snow – in fact they like all weather – for obvious reasons. That’s why they became meteorologists. But they invent names, and conditions, and over hype to build up excitement, and suspense. Last year, to explain the very much snowfall we had here in the northeast, someone came up with the Polar Vortex! Yikes!!! It sounds positively evil! I heard it again on the news last week. The Polar Vortex! is back! We used to have another name for it. We used to call it winter.
If you don’t like the snow, you have three options:
- Continue to grumble
- Learn to enjoy it and embrace it like this guy did during the Chicago winter of 2013/2014 (which was pretty brutal, even by Chicago standards)
As for me, I say, Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! And I leave you with this lovely musical interlude of the same name, by Dean Martin.
P.S. I apologize for all the Christmas imagery in this YouTube video. Most folks think this is a Christmas song. It isn’t! Here are the lyrics. Can you see one reference to Christmas? No! It’s just a lovely, cozy song about hunkering down with your sweetie. Christmas mustn’t need snow to be celebrated, and snow can be enjoyed for its own sake.
Rosalys is a special contributor to StubbornThings