Via my seven-year-old daughter, I relived that delicious, wonderful freedom of an unexpected day off. Ah, the glorious power of mother nature.
Written March 2013
Hello again, everyone! I’m happy to be writing again after taking some time off during the winter doldrums. Right now the knee-deep snow in our yard suggests that winter may never end, but I’m not fooled. Winter, you are on the way out, old man. Longer evenings, more daylight… Spring really is on the way, and I am so excited.
In the time while I’ve been off “on vacation,” busy life continued. Here are a few of the highlights of our life during the interim:
Leaving Tennessee: My brother and his family moved from Tennessee back to our hometown in Minnesota. They happened to move in on the coldest night of the year. Our extended family turned out in big numbers to help, unloading two packed-full trailers in -25 wind chills. Frigid weather, but lots of family…welcome to Minnesota, y’all! Amazingly, that makes three of us siblings (and our families) moving back to MN from other states in one year’s time.
Leaving Iowa: I am an ACTRESS! Well, kind of. I performed in my very first play, “Leaving Iowa,” with the Lanesboro Community Theatre. For that brief time, I was Jessie, the overly talkative waitress with a little attitude.
Jessie the Waitress. Photo by Pete Keith of Lanesboro Community Theater.
I had a blast.
I always secretly wanted to be in a play in high school, but I didn’t have the guts to try out. I’m so thankful for community theater which makes it “never too late” to try something new. I’m also thankful for meeting such a fun group of people in the cast and crew. About ten of the 26 cast members were first time actors, so I got to experience the thrill (and butterflies) of the new experience right alongside many of my fellow cast members.
Truthfully, just walking into the audition almost took more guts than what I thought I had, but I am so thankful I summoned up the courage to do it. I felt butterflies in my stomach for the first time in perhaps years, and I’m thankful for that, too. I know I’m still alive and kicking.
Living in Minnesota: Most recently, what’s on my mind is the joy of a good, old-fashioned snow day. I realize a snow day for many parents means a stressful scrambling to figure out alternative plans while kids have no school and parents still need to head to work. In that regard, I’m grateful for a work day that occurs right in our home. Snow days just mean our two school age kids are home to play all day with our two younger children.
I will admit, though, on a recent snow day, I didn’t exactly start out the day with jolly good cheer.
Just before 6 AM, I checked online and then left a note in the bathroom for our kids announcing the two-hour school delay. I headed back to bed hoping for a few more minutes of sleep after a restless night. I got up for the day at 8:00, after a rare morning of sleeping in. (Ten years ago, I never would have called 8 AM “sleeping in,” but my perspective has changed a bit.) And still, I was exhausted and crabby. Four rambunctious kids, housebound in a snowstorm, didn’t sound very appealing. I was not exactly in fine parenting mode, that I know.
However, I unexpectedly came downstairs to find hot coffee, a homemade quiche, AND a cherry pie, baked in the oven by my husband, Jarred, and his four willing helpers. Warm food, good coffee, and kids so excited to surprise me jump-started my attitude adjustment.
After breakfast I checked school closings again online and discovered school switched from delayed to the big “C.” CLOSED.
I beckoned my first grader to come upstairs and read the announcement on the computer screen. She double-checked with me to be sure. Then she was gone.
A few seconds later, I heard the rapid thuds of excited steps down the stairs and the triumphant yell: “NO SCHOOOOOL!!”
In an instant, my surly attitude evaporated.
I was a kid again, sitting in front of the radio listening to school closings. I was pondering the likelihood of a cancellation, weighing the odds by the number and proximity of the other school closings. ”Ooh, good! Dover-Eyota’s cancelled!! That HAS to mean we’re closed, too!” I remember the agonizing wait for the announcer to work down to the “S” portion of the list. ”St. Ansgar, closed! They’re always closed, so that doesn’t count. But ooh, we’re next!” And finally, the words I longed to hear, “St. Charles, closed!”
Via my seven-year-old daughter, I relived that delicious, wonderful freedom of an unexpected day off. Ah, the glorious power of mother nature. A big whopper of a storm, so powerful that even school didn’t stand a chance. The joy of a full day to relish and squander greedily. A snow day is indeed glorious.
The decibel level of my kids told me that they felt just as excited as I did when I was little. One of the best things about being a parent is getting to see that some things never change.
Just before lunch, the snow ended and I poked my head outside. Inside was mess, melee, and noise. Outside, the world was silent and bright with deep, powdery snow on the windless day. It reminded me of Bozeman, Montana, where I went to college. Bozeman is nestled in a sheltering valley between mountain ranges, so time after time I saw a gentle snowfall pile up six inches of powdery snow, followed by a bright, windless, pleasant winter day. It was a Bozeman kind of day.
Riding on a sled over knee deep snow.
I rounded up the kids and we headed outside into the powdery goodness. I remember that as a little kid, the snow always seemed so deep. Looking at our 23-month-old wading in snow over her knees, it suddenly made sense why the snow used to be so much deeper when I was young.
The kids meandered through the yard, playing on the snow-covered wood pile and pulling each other around in the sled. They slid down the only hill in our yard: the piled mound of plowed snow. Fluffy with new snow on top, with a frozen sheet of ice covering hard-packed snow beneath, the mound is just right for sliding and MN-style surfing.
Building a secret fort in the wood pile.
I pushed our kids in the tree swings, their feet kicking up sprays of white powder with every arc. Under a big snow-covered oak tree, watching smoke curl up from the wood burner, surrounded in a powdery quiet blanket interrupted only by the sound of kids in play, all felt right with the world.
Eventually, we headed inside and heated up some leftovers for lunch. And for dessert, snow cream.
Snow cream is a simple ice cream-like delicacy that I never heard of in all my snowy Minnesotan upbringing. Ironically, I learned about the treat from my North Carolinian roommate in college, who had a giddy excitement over snow the first year we both went to Montana State. The fresh powder from a new snowfall is ideal snow for making snow cream.
bowl of snow–6-8 cups
1/2-3/4 cup cream or milk
4 T. sugar
1 t. vanilla
Stir together until it looks like soft serve ice cream, and eat immediately! I provided measurements for people who like exactness, but in all honesty, I don’t measure anything. I just sprinkle sugar, drizzle in cream, add a dash of vanilla and then stir and tweak as needed. Chocolate syrup is also a great addition.
So, if we happen to get yet another snowfall this March, take some of that four-letter “s” word, and go make yourself something yummy. Enjoy!