It seems today I cannot force
My muse to adequately inspire me.
No rhythms or rhymes as a matter of course
That on Tuesdays I require. She
Told me I was on my own –
Cajoling her did not prevail
She spent the day on laptop and phone
Ordering bargains from a post-Christmas Sale.
Manna From Heaven
It is snowing here. At last. We seldom have to wait this long into the season for our first significant snowfall here in the mountains of western North Carolina. Maybe it is because the first twelve years of my life were lived in southeast Texas, that I love the snow as much as I do. There were two times in those twelve years that snow fell on Beaumont. It was a big deal. The first time of my life I was in first grade. The second occurred when I was in third grade. Both times are wonderful and vivid memories.
One morning at around 5 a.m. I felt my mom shaking me awake and whispering into my ear, “Paula, get up! It snowed last night! There is snow on the ground!” Mom always said that I was up and out of bed before she could say “Jack Robinson!” and that my eyes, still closed in sleep, did not open until after she got my coat on. I was beyond excited.
I did not really understand what snow was. I had in my mind that it was like the sparkly glitter that decorated Christmas cards. For some reason or other I just didn’t connect the phenomenon with cold temperatures. So you can imagine my surprise when I ran outside our front door and was greeted with a blast of what was to me then, some very cold air (it was probably about 30° F), cold enough to keep the snow from melting before the sun rose. There was a whole inch of it on the ground! Still surprised by the cold air, I was nevertheless excited to run out into the magical white stuff. On all the winter scenes portrayed on Christmas cards there were always children making snowballs or snowmen! So I bent over to make my own snowball (took at least a square foot of the meager snow to make one). It was in my bare hands for about ⅓ of a second before hitting the ground again. It was freezing cold! Might as well have been a horseshoe just off the forge, because it was so cold that it burned. There are a very few moments in my life that I can recall being so disappointed or feeling so disillusioned. How did people play with that stuff and smile?
It wasn’t long before the snow was gone. Temperatures rose during the day to the customary Beaumont winter levels – about 45° – and rainy. Winters in Beaumont may not have been all that cold in comparison to those in colder climes, but the summer humidity translated to winter dampness that time of the year, and though it might not give you frostbite, it could chill you to the bone.
My next experience with snow was a couple of years later. It was a far more significant snow – amounting to more than 8″ of accumulation on the ground. It was beautiful. By that time I knew what to expect – being an experienced hand at this “snow thing,” and I was able to play in it and enjoy it. I can even remember the day that snow fell – Friday, February 12, 1960. I remember it because it was the day of my third grade Valentine’s party at school and also my favorite aunt’s birthday. Just as our party began we saw the snow begin to fall. The entire school was ecstatic! It began to accumulate pretty rapidly, and by nightfall the city was at a standstill. No matter. The kids weren’t. Saturday morning the sun came out and my brothers and I ran out to play in the winter wonderland – for as long as it lasted. In true Beaumont fashion, however, every flake of snow melted by the end of the day, turning the ground into a soggy mess.
When I was 12 years old, my family moved north to Connecticut (a world away it seemed), and I looked forward to a genuine winter. I was not disappointed. During the first winter there, our part of southwest Connecticut experienced a record snowfall total for the season. Well over six feet all totaled. I loved it. That little five-year-old girl who was so surprised by the cold gift from heaven – winter’s manna – grew up to love the feel of snow on her face, making “snow angels,” and catching the glistening crystals on the tip of her tongue.
I know there are many people who don’t share my love of winter. But for me it is a wonderful time of year. Spring and summer are so much more loved and relished after the freezing days of winter. So, my Gentle Readers, for those of you in the southern hemisphere, I wish you enough summer heat to enjoy the cold winds of winter; for the other half of you, I wish you enough snow to revel in the gentle rain and warm sunshine of spring and summer. I wish you all enough. . .
(The poem has been submitted to Funny Bunny Friday week #6)