Every winter, I think there’s something so pretty about a brand new layer of snow covering the ground. There’s peace in those first few hours where from the blanket of white outside, you can actually see the moonlight bouncing off the ground through the curtains at night. When, if you catch the light just right, you can see little sparkles of snowflakes on the ground as you walk. And as time goes by, the perfect sheet of snow tends to become mottled by the plows dredging up gray slush from the street onto the end of the yard, the drips of wet snow falling off the tree branches when it starts to melt, divots and pocks and footprints of critters and neighbors and the mailman’s daily path through the yard. It’s that point in time when you can usually have a conversation with any Chicagoan and they will tell you they can’t wait for Spring to arrive because winter is just ugly.
Now that my little one is finally healthy and no longer battling infections, this weekend I had the opportunity to do something with her that I’ve been waiting to do for a long time – I took her out to play in the snow for the first time. I pulled everything out of the front closet, eyeballing the mismatched hand-me-downs and looking for the best pieces that might fit. I knew this whole shebang could go one of two ways – either a total success where we’d be doing it all again the next day and the next, or an utter failure where her tears of toddler terror would freeze on her face faster than they could land on her boots.
Before it even began, things started out rocky with fits and “no!”s and a wriggling toddler trying to claw her way across the floor with tears streaming down her cheeks as I pulled the puffy pants up to her armpits. I pushed her arms through the coat sleeves, a feat that took a little fenagling and a lot of patience as my eardrum was being pierced by high-pitched screams, all the while the neighbors probably thinking I was torturing this poor little innocent child. And the boots. Dear God the boots. It’s a wonder I still have all my teeth.
I wrestled her baby hands into the gigantic mittens, her little thumbs inside somewhere but nowhere near the actual thumb hole, and with “Find the Thumbs” not a game I had any desire to play, I let it be. Girl could survive without working thumbs. I fastened the strap on her bear hat under her chin, whispered, “meh,” when I noticed it was a little cockeyed but not completely covering her eyes, and I squeezed my own long underwear-covered thighs into a pair of old jeans, put on my coat and scarf, and I asked her sweetly, “do you want to go outside?”
<sob sob> “yeah…”
It was a start. So I sucked in my breath like all mommas do when they’re trying to get their little one excited about something and I said with way more enthusiasm than was probably necessary and eyes about to pop out of my head, “BABY….Do you want to go PLAY IN THE SNOW?!?!?!?”
<pitiful sniffle> “yeah.”
Ok, so my girl had no idea what playing in the snow actually meant but ‘yeah’ was better than tears I suppose. So I picked up my over-stuffed bub and we hit the backyard running. And even though it had been a week since it actually snowed fresh fluffy flakes, and even though the snow was so hard that we could walk on top of it instead of pushing through it, and even though the poor thing couldn’t actually, you know, use her hands or bend her knees in the 2″ thick snow pants, or walk well in the boots that were a size too small, turns out my baby, she’s a snow bunny.
She laughed and played and giggled when I made a snow angel and she walked around listening to the snow under her boots. And when mommy’s toes were about to turn black and fall off and I said it was time to go in, she cried harder than she had when I shoved her 2-year-old head into that 1-year-old’s hat before we went out. And when I went outside the next morning, I realized that after 35 years of finding beauty in the perfection of a fresh untouched snowfall, 1 hour the afternoon before changed my perception for good. This beaten up snow is no longer ugly, to me a trampled yard of snow means my baby is healthy enough to play outside in the cold winter air. She is happy. There were smiles. There were snow angels and a little pink nose while my girly nibbled on the neck of her winter coat while she stumbled around in her cute little boots. And in years to come, there will be forts made out of buckets filled with snow, and snowball fights with the neighbors, and snow slides at the end of the driveway after daddy shovels. There is joy here in our yard, and a cute little snowman to prove it.
Over a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow, I’ll take the trampled please.