Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Diamonds in the Trees

Memories of snow...

I’d wake up in the night, and flip on the outside light that was above the window in my room. Peering out into the darkness, I’d try to see snowflakes falling. Oh, to see those fluffy flakes, swirling in the dark night! I'd wake up my sister Becky, eager to share the excitement with her and we'd stare out of the window together. I’d barely be able to sleep, I’d be so excited about the chance to play in the snow at daylight!

I remember walking from our house through the pasture to Pop & Belle’s house. On more than one occasion, I’d dash out the door bundled up in my coat, gloves and hat – but on my feet I’d have just put on the little red rubber galoshes – NO shoes or socks. By the time I arrived at Belle’s, my feet would be like little blocks of ice, and I couldn’t even feel my toes! She’d put my feet in a pan of warm water – and then call my mama to tell her I’d walked up there bare-footed in the snow!

I remember Mama or Belle, pulling a snow-laden tree limb over my head. When the limb sprang back, it would dump all the snow on me, so I’d stand in a momentary blizzard.

I can almost see the smoky gray galoshes my mama wore over her shoes; they had a little elastic loop that went over a button on the outside. Mama had a pair of brown woolly mittens, too. She always loved to play outside with us in the snow, and we always tried to build a snowman.

Mama would make hot Russian tea to warm us up when we’d come inside after playing in the snow. The smell of oranges and cinnamon would fill the house. The mandatory pre-snow trip to the store for bread and milk also included oranges for us, so that Mama could brew that good tea.

Daddy worked, even in the snow. Even MORE in the snow, to be honest. He’d get on the Bobcat and scrape the driveways for everybody in the neighborhood. He’d also drive up to the Peachland Post Office, and collect the mail for all of us. He and Pop had to feed the cows, so they’d pile some hay in the back of the truck and drive through the snow-covered pastures. Those cows were always glad to see them coming, too. Fresh hay was much easier to eat then trying to find grass beneath the snow and ice.

One neat thing about chicken houses was that they made awesome icicles! Sometimes they might be three or four feet long! Daddy would break them off of the roof and bring them to the house for us to play with. We’d pretend to have sword fights with those huge icicles!

Our house was up on a hill, so the road to the chicken houses made for a pretty neat sledding hill. We’d sit in a white enamel dishpan and go whooshing down the hill!

When I was in first grade, we had a serious ice storm. The reason I can remember it so vividly is not completely pleasant. Lines were down, and the power was out for several days. Daddy brought in a kerosene stove to heat the house. I was walking around it, lost my balance, and stuck my hand out to catch my fall -- right on that stove top. It burned a perfect circle in the palm of my hand. I can see my mama, jumping up out of the rocking chair where she’d been holding my baby sister Becky. Becky was all wrapped up in a blanket; Mama handed Becky to my friend and neighbor Margaret. She was about 10 years old, and had come over to play in the snow with me. I know I was wailing like a banshee as Mama grabbed me and held me close. While my burnt hand hurt like crazy....the rest of the memory is actually sweet. She put some vaseline on my burn, then tucked me into her big bed with a burgundy and gold satin comforter. I pretended I was a princess, in spite of my blistered palm. (And for the record, my hand healed just fine; I have a hard time now remembering whether it was my right hand or left hand. No permanent scars.)

As an adult, I looked forward to snow days with at least as much excitement as I did when I was a child! One of my favorite “grown-up” snow memories was taking my 8-day-old son outside for his “first snowfall” experience. He was all bundled up in a yellow zip-up snowsuit – and I have to say he was NOT particularly impressed with the snow or the cold! His loud protests brought squeals of laughter from his older sisters!

After three days of freezing temperatures, snow, and cloudy skies, the sun is shining this morning. Snow nestles in the crooks of trees, and every branch is coated with an icy glaze. Birds congregate around every feeder, enjoying a free meal. My cats sit on the porch, watching the birds through the screen. A truck tries to navigate up the hill toward my house, slipping and sliding and eventually finding success.

Snow gives the world a temporary blanket of freshness, a magical beauty, a chance to slow down. A light breeze blows and the world sparkles with diamonds in the trees.


David Lee Waters Sr., said...

Beautiful writing.
Beautiful images.
Beautiful memories.
Beautiful, you are.
Simply Beautiful.

Nancy said...

Anita, remember making snow cream? When I was a child, the air was not polluted. We could scrap off the top and gather clean snow. Mother would make us chocolate snow cream!

I love your Peachland stories!

Squirrel's Trading Company said...

I couldn't have said it any better. I have a chow dog and he just loves it in the snow and I have written a poem or story called "The Resurrection" in which my dog who likes the snow lays outside and lets the snow blanket him first then ice on top to make it crunchy. Then when called for a walk he pops up from his little igloo and looks at me with his inquisitive look and ready to go for a walk in the snow.