The kids and I have always looked forward to snow days. We considered them a gift from God. It afforded us the opportunity to get caught up on schoolwork, gave us an excuse to sit around and watch movies while eating popcorn, and it also gave us the excuse for a nap. Today, as I listen to the wind, the crackling of the house, and the snapping of the wood fire, I can’t help but think about days gone by.
When I was 10 years old, my parents purchased a working Dairy farm and we moved 2 hours north. It was the best thing that ever happened to my siblings and I. Although we worked hard, we also took time to play. My father had two old snowmobiles that he allowed us to use and we drove them all over our 350 acre property. I remember getting stuck in the back field, snow filling our boots, and looking like snowmen when we returned from a good ride, but it was so much fun!
Dad used to make huge snow piles out front, and we would build snow forts for hours. My brother, my sister and I would work at them until our hands were like ice. We’d come in for a warm up, get some hot chocolate, put on some dry mittens and go out for more.
It was a huge blessing to raise our children on that same farm. Our children didn’t have a snowmobile, but we did have a 4-wheeler. My husband would tie a sled to the back of the machine and take our children for rides up and down the driveway. When they became older, he would intentionally take sharp corners to try to dump them off. I would laugh so hard that I had tears freezing on my cheeks. Our children also benefitted from the huge snow piles which my father created for them on our lawn. The only downfall, was cleaning up the rocks off the lawn in the Spring. However, it kept our children entertained for hours and it was worth every rock.
One of my family’s favorite treats during a storm is homemade “snow ice-cream” which is always grape nut. It is a Higgins tradition and when you marry into the family, part of the wedding vows is that you learn to like and to make ice cream from scratch.
I have always loved watching my children play with their father. Although he always had to work on our snow days, he had a sense of humor, and the snow exemplified it. One particularly bad storm left him unable to get to work a mile down the road. Since his place of employment needed to be open in order to serve the farmers in the area, he pushed hard to be there to open the doors on time. So, naturally, he drove a farm tractor to work. Somewhere someone has the best picture of him plowing out with the John Deere underneath the Case International sign at the corner. It caused a whole lot of smiles in town and a whole lot teasing!
In 1998 we were hit by an ice storm. It crippled the state for days. I think we were out of school for a strong 2 weeks. During that time, my husband was a Selectman for our town, and I remember him taking the chain saw and heading to local roadways in order to cut through enough space for emergency personnel to go through if needed. We laid awake at night listening to the trees crack and break under the pressure of the ice. I remember crying for the trees as they “wept” sap. Clean up everywhere was immense. Our driveway that lined Silver Maples lost a third of their branches that year. However, it brings back warm memories of people helping people. Farmers shared generators. Everyone helped to cut paths, shared food and supplies., truly caring about one another. It was a good feeling to be part of it. My fondest memories during that time was watching how my children responded. There was no TV, we read by candlelight, played cards and board games, but best of all, my children enjoyed sledding together. Where? Well down the compost pile of course!
Five years ago I watched my son graduate from Boot Camp. My daughter-in-law and I went out to meet him with our grandson. It was very special time for me and I felt grateful to be included. It was interesting to see how those who aren’t familiar with the snow responded. It didn’t bother us at all. In fact, whenever it snows, I can’t help but think about my son. He loves it. He drives fast, intentionally stomps on the breaks, and squeals “yee haw” when the car spins around in the farm-yard. One day, Dad brought me over to see the tracks that went up and over the compost pile. It was a proud moment…
The children are older, but they still love a good snow day. Even this year, while home for Christmas break, the girls and I ran to the yard to make snow angels and a mini snowman. Snow brings out the inner child and I enjoyed releasing mine with my girls.
I look forward to the day when we can introduce our granddaughter to the world of snow. Since my son and his family live in Florida, she is missing out on the season. She and her brother would enjoy the wood fire, the whistling wind, the power outage with candles and flashlights, game day, and the special lazy day that comes with a Snow Day. Perhaps one day soon, we can teach both she and her brother the fine art of snow forts, snow angels, snow mobiles and sleds pulled by four-wheelers. We can introduce them to true Maine snow storms and “wicked slippery drivin'”.
May we all enjoy our gift from God today and save the shoveling for tomorrow. Happy Snow Day everyone!