Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Snowflakeby Rosalys1/26/16
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

4) Meteorologists

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 doneSnow2 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:

  1. Move
  2. Continue to grumble
  3. 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 • (796 views)

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15 Responses to Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    You get extra points for choosing Dean for the Let It Snow video.

    We got a very light dusting of snow about a week past Christmas. But other than that, there has been no snow (other than in the mountains) of any significance on the Left Coast.

    I get a kick out of the would-be tyrants telling people to stay home and read a book or watch a video. I laugh even harder when there is talk about canceling NFL games because it’s a little cold. Can’t people make those decisions for themselves and plan accordingly?

    People on the Left Coast most certainly do not know how to drive in the snow. It doesn’t help that it’s an extremely hilly region as well. Nevertheless, let it snow.

    • Rosalys says:

      There are the would be tyrants, and then there are those who have already achieved tyrant status. Back in 2013, during a pretty big snow storm, Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts, declared a totally ridiculous, and unnecessary state of emergency, forbidding anyone other than emergency vehicles, plows, police, etc. to drive until he gave the all clear. He was also governor at the time of the Boston Marathon bombing and was responsible for scenes such as this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LrbsUVSVl8 during the subsequent manhunt. This man was a tyrant. No longer the Governor of Massachusetts, he has been returned to would be status.

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    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

    4) Meteorologists

    You should add people who never saw snow growing up. My wife is from the tropics and had not seen snow until we went on a skiing vacation in Switzerland. She was thrilled to see snow for the first time. And there is probably no better way to be introduced to snow than in the Swiss Alps.

    I particularly love the way snow mutes sound. To walk around a forest in the snow is one of the most peaceful things in the world.

    As to driving in the snow, sadly, the people in Texas are pretty much hopeless in an inch or more of snow. But we have even worse things like ice storms every five years, or so.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I particularly love the way snow mutes sound. To walk around a forest in the snow is one of the most peaceful things in the world.

      What did Meg Ryan say in the sandwich shop? “Yes. Yes! YES!!!” Nothing is more sublimely beautiful and mystical than a midnight walk in the snow in and around a forest.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        You are reading my mind. I especially like it when moon rays shine between the branches and light up the snow. It’s like you are in some other dimension.

        The Germans, Swiss and Austrians say one week of winter vacation is as good as two weeks of a summer vacation.

    • Rosalys says:

      I think that visiting the Swiss Alps is a lovely way to be introduced to snow! I hope to see Swiss snow someday myself. My husband has been to Switzerland twice, but without me. Hopefully on his next trip – if there is one – he’ll take me along.

  3. Timothy Lane says:

    Snow is fine as long as there isn’t too much of it for us. Neither of us can do heavy snow shoveling (though lighter work is still possible for us), so our worry would be getting shut in. Since neither of us has a job (or is probably physically capable anymore), at least we can always wait a few days. And if it snows enough, we might be able to make snow cream, which we haven’t done in years.

    In 1978 we had a 17-inch fall overnight — and at the time I was at work (on third shift for a week). I had to drive home in it, but managed (leaving the parking garage, I put the car in low-gear and floored it to make it up a slight incline in the heavy snow). I did end up in a snow bank at home and didn’t go in that night. In all I missed 2 days in 2 weeks (the second because there were reports the buses might not operate in the extreme cold). They had 8 snow days in that period. Naturally I received no reward for only missing 2 days.

    • Rosalys says:

      “Neither of us can do heavy snow shoveling…”

      That’s what friendly, shovel lovin’ neighbors are for. If I lived next door, I’d take care of it for you.

      “…so our worry would be getting shut in.”

      You’ve got to learn to hunker, Tim!

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Elizabeth would be unhappy at not making it to church. In fact, this already happened once this year, though not in the most recent snow (which was really bad for only a single day). We do occasionally get help from friendly neighbors, but mostly such heavy shoveling will cost money we can’t afford.

  4. Lucia says:

    We live in the mountains in the Pacific NW and snow here is slippery and heavy with water, especially on hilly driveways. The plows are slow to clear the roads, busy with clearing the freeways, so people either stay home until the snow melts with the next rain or drive their pickups to get around. The delivery trucks refuse to drive on unplowed driveways so we wait longer for UPS on those days, but that doesn’t mean I don’t shovel it off in places. I shovel snow off my patio so that ice doesn’t form on the concrete under the snow and ruin it. I remove the snow off the runners on our wooden bridge that spans our creek so it doesn’t freeze into slick ice after we drive on it. But our driveway, like most of our neighbors, is too long for clearing by hand and nobody bothers to plow with a tractor since it usually doesn’t last for long anyway.

    But I can relate to loving to shovel things. I love the work of it, the combination of muscle powered by energy, which produces visual evidence of one’s labor. So much work these days is done without knowing what results from it, especially production work done via computer networks or communication done by speaking or writing. Hand labor, whether shoveling, or sewing, or baking, or gardening shows the immediate results of one’s efforts, which I find satisfying.

    So, when the snow reaches 2 inches deep, I truss up my back, done my warm hat and coat, slip on my rubber boots and leather gloves, and grab my shovel. Just for the love of it.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I don’t often say as much as I should in terms of encouragement. But that’s a splendid article, Rosalys. I love the song, “Let it Snow!,” as well as some of the other non-denominational songs such as “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” or especially “Baby it’s cold outside,” particularly as sung by — you guessed it — Dean Martin. It’s a wonderful land playful song of sweet seduction.

    His “A Winter Romance” album is surely in your collection. It’s a terrific mix of “non-denominational” (if you will) winter tunes along with such standards as “White Christmas” and a delightful and playful version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in which he infuses this sometimes stale song with new life. That album, of course, includes “Let it Snow.”

    On the Left Coast it could be that we’ll bypass winter altogether again as we did last year. Yesterday the lows were in the low 50’s. A little cooler weather is on the way (lows in the mid 30’s) but one wonders if spring will once again begin in early March or late February.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      In North Texas, we have had a relatively mild winter, but even we have had several freezes. It was about 30 degrees this morning. It would seem winter is almost gone, but I remind people that the second half of January and first half of February can sometimes be the coldest days of the year. It’s not over yet.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Yes, winter can turn on a dime, even here. I’ve heard we’re getting some effect from El Nino. Whatever it is, I expect a mild, if rainy, rest of the season. But who knows? Isn’t it global cooling that is upon us now? I forget. I’ll have to check my calendar for the latest.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      On the Petula Clark CD Duets, she sings “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with Rod McKuen.

  6. Anniel says:

    Rosalys, Anchorage has been having a snow drought again. The funny part is we live less than two miles from the main meteorological station and for almost a month now they have been predicting snow almost every day. They even say we have “a 100% chance of snow,” or “It is currently snowing, expect 2 to 5 inches.” Ha, we open the drapes and the sun is shining. I’d like nothing better than a good hunker down, but it’s not in the cards yet. Do weathermen even look outside? You know, where the weather is?

    Your essay made me hungry for snow. Thank you.

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