Monday, December 8, 2008

Snow Day

Winter was on a Sunday this year, according to my kids. November 30th. It started snowing Saturday off and on, and then stuck overnight. Immediately after church they took off toward the south field by the pond to check for ice and dead frogs. I barked strict orders at them as they ran to STAY OUT OF THE WATER YOU DO NOT HAVE WINTER BOOTS ON YOU ARE WEARING GOOD CLOTHES DO NOT BRING ANYTHING BACK TO THE HOUSE STAY OUT OF THE WATER OR ELSE!
Once they saw the tiny pasture between the pond and the hedge apple trees, however, the pond was forgotten.
Remember that sight from when you were a kid? Or maybe last winter? The blanket of sparkly white stuff that looks solid but isn’t? That freaky substance that practically screams “Come play with me!” and no matter how old you are you can hear it? Oh, yeah – snow.
I watched them stop and just stand and stare at the field. Then as they took off at a run again, I trudged inside to get my camera. And my boots. And a decent hat for Ben.
Before the kids got there, this field had a beautiful coat of snow that was just barely beginning to melt because it had the longest grass. It’s probably just under an acre, and it’s a funny shape and I don’t like to mow it because there’s more unpleasant surprises in that tiny field than anywhere else on the property. The biggest toad I’ve ever seen in my life hopped in front of the mower for a good 25 yards one day; I finally just got off and chased him to the side with a stick. I’ve had to swerve (and if you’ve ever driven a mower with zero-radius turning and a 60 inch deck, this is not easy or particularly fun) to avoid stray beams and piles of scrap steel. And since this field is between the pond and the hedge apple trees, the perimeter is a delightful experience – sandy slopes on one side, branches with 4 inch thorns on two others. Look up osage orange on the web and you’ll see what I mean. These trees are the strangest things too – it’s not like this ‘fruit’ is edible or good for much. I don’t see what the tree is protecting, but it is very well protected. And for those of you who think hedge apples keep the bugs away, I gotta tell ya that bugs crawl all over them when they fall in the yard, so… if it works for you, great, but I’m just sayin’…
Anyway, back to our Snow Day.

I made it back out to the field in time for a snowball fight, and the snowman that Abby had so desperately wanted to build since, well, last winter. There has been a bowl with buttons and sprinkles in the china cabinet since August, just waiting for the snow to fall. Baby carrots are always on the grocery list because baby carrots make cuter noses than big ones.
The snowman didn’t get a name – they couldn’t agree. The artists did agree to pose with their creation, and then I said I had to go inside. “Are you cold, mama?” Ben asked, incredulously. It’s 34 degrees out, he’s only keeping his coat zipped because I threatened him, the hat I brought him is on my head, and his three pairs of gloves are somewhere in the abyss known as their room. They are more costume than practical winter apparel.

I remember not caring how cold it was – there’s SNOW!!! I think I was about his age. It must wear off earlier in girls, because Abby followed me inside. The Capri pants she insisted were okay to wear today apparently aren’t good for playing in the snow after all. I resisted the urge to snort loudly at her. Elliott and Ben stayed out another 20 minutes or so throwing snowballs at each other and the snowman, and then we all had hot cocoa.
Monday morning, the snow was almost all melted away, and as Ben and I ran our errands, I heard a big sad sigh from the back seat.
“What’s up little man?” I asked him, thinking we’d forgotten some toy crucial to his road-trip enjoyment.
“Winter’s over, mom. I’m just sad, that’s all.”
I only spent like 14 seconds trying to explain that winter had not even really started yet. No matter how many times we look at the calendar, the concept of seasons just isn’t clicking for him. He seemed happier to hear that there would be more snow days, and then he moved on to a charming oration about what might happen if we moved to Alaska. He can dream of moose and drifts higher than our house, but the southern Midwest is just fine by me.