The snow is falling silently. Just yesterday, it got up to 64 degrees F, and everyone was out in their shirt sleeves. It's the magic of a Colorado winter.
In another few days or a week, the temperature will rise again and we'll forget what it was like to pull on the boots and coat to trudge out to school or take care of the animals. For now, I am just sitting and savoring the silence and the snow. This morning it was a blur, coming down fast, like a fuzzy rain. Now, giant flakes are taking their time, dancing when the breeze catches them and piling up higher and higher on the ground.
While it's incredibly nice to have the wonderful, sunny days in the middle of winter, I would never want to move to a place where there is no snow. There is something so peaceful about sitting with a cup of tea by the open window, watching while the world around me is covered with a thick, white blanket. That's when it's nice to be in the house, to come into myself a little more, and take time out just to be.
Regardless of the fact that Denver tops San Diego in the list of the countries' sunniest cities, and that most of our snow comes in the spring, thoughts of winter bring thoughts of snow, the adventurous times as well as the quiet ones.
One memorable Christmas, we had a blizzard that made the roads hazardous and threatened to cancel all of our holiday gatherings. The Reinhart clan, ever determined to party on, sent out those family members with snow worthy vehicles to pick up the rest of us.
For our family, that meant piling everyone inside and tying a wheelchair to the top of the old Scout that our brother-in-law was driving. Two of Chris' brothers drove over to pick up their grandmother, who lived alone on the other side of town. Her street was completely impassable to any vehicle, but that didn't stop them. They hiked through the snow, bundled up Grandmother, and carried her down the block to the truck. I'm sure it was a Christmas she remembered!
Something else that will trigger memories is seeing horses standing in the snow. Then I remember my first kiss and chuckle to myself.
I was a sophmore in high school and had friends who loved to ride horseback. As one of the families had several horses, I often got to go along with them. This day, they had invited several young men to join us. It was one of those bright, sunny, snowy days after a late winter storm had dumped a foot of snow on the ground. The horses hopped through the deep snow and trudged through the mud where the snow had already melted. We gals were experienced riders by now but the guys were not. The guys did not impress me. Their talk was full of bigoted, hateful remarks about every group of people but themselves. I wanted nothing to do with them.
One of them, however, was determined to ride as close as possible next to me, something that is not advisable when riding on horseback, even if you ride well. He did his best to flirt with me and I did my best to turn him away. Nothing made any difference. I trotted with my horse through a field of mud until my face was coated with the spray from the horse's hooves. He trotted his horse clumsily, right next to mine. It was when he leaned over, grabbed me, and kissed me, muddy lips against muddy lips, that I lost it completely.
I said nothing, only slowed down suddenly so that my horse was just far enough behind his that I could take my reins and slap his horse on the rump. The horse took off like lightening across the muddy field, its rider bouncing in the seat and holding the ends of the reins. I stopped and watched and smiled, imagining the bruises he'd have the next day. He stayed away from me after that.
Other snow adventures include tubing down the mountain in Evergreen, checking the feet of 6th graders for frostbite after a long snowy hike at Outdoor Lab Camp, and the morning routine of knocking ice balls off our donkey's hooves.
Teaching kindergarten curbed my enthusiasm for going out in the snow only because it involved keeping track of 20 hats, coats, and scarves, and 20 pairs of mittens, snow pants, and boots, as well as the process of putting them all on the children and taking them off again. It was inevitable that at least one child would need to use the bathroom directly after buckling the last buckle and zipping up his or her coat. At last we would be ready, and as soon as we were outside we had a great time.
The teachers enjoyed the snow too, and we once spent the first half hour of our faculty meeting sledding down the hill on the playground.
Ah, the snow! Maybe I'll bundle up later and go outside. I could build a snowman or make a rather chubby snow angel. If I get ambitious, I could even take the sled down to the park and slide down the hill. Maybe my grandsons would like to join me. It sounds like fun . . . but no, I think I'll just make myself another cup of tea and watch the snowflakes fall.
Today, the memories of my adventures are enough.
(written last year for Elder-Zone magazine)