The winter season runs long here in the midwest. We still have snow on the ground as I am writing, so while others are already talking about spring I am still thinking about snow. I know I am not the only Southerner who marvels at it beauty. The Wall Street Journal recently had an article about South Texans from the Rio Grande Valley who were still saving snow balls in their freezers. A few years ago when the area got its first snow in over 100 years people rushed to save a bit of its magic. One women they interviewed said she was saving her snowball to give to her grandchildren. It was so important to her that she had it listed in her will.
Growing up on the Texas coast snow is still quite a novelty to me. The handful of times it snowed growing up it melted so quickly that I never saw a real snowflake. Seasoned Chicagoans would no doubt get a good chuckle out of what us South Texans consider snow: any frozen precipitation no matter the amount counts, even if it melts in the air.
When our family moved to Chicago, I remember the wonder of watching the snow fall. It was November and we had been in our new home for just a week. We were just beginning to talk about our winter game plan. We needed boots, pants and a snow blower, but before we could sort it all out the snow arrived. I remember us rushing out to Home Depot to get our first snow shovel. The forecast was for more than just a dusting so my girls and I waited in the car and watched the snow begin to fall. Then when my husband came out with a new fur lined bomber hat and shovel, I had to laugh. Let the new Northern adventure begin! Our girls who were toddlers at the time had never seen snow so we all had fun making snow angels and playing together on our front lawn. We got advice from neighbors and friends who were kind to help me because I was definitely clueless when it came to serious winter apparel.
Then a few weeks later when it snowed again, I remember seeing a snowflake fall on my daughter’s dark hair. I looked down and for the first time, I saw an actual six-sided snowflake. The shape I had only seen in Christmas ornaments and school crafts. Real snowflakes are beautiful. I stopped and marveled at its fleeting beauty.
I have now lived here long enough to become more acquainted with the sometimes-bitter cold of January. Last year when record breaking temperatures plunged down to a negative twenty-two, I got a text message from a friend about how for that one day the wind chill temperature difference between Houston and Chicago was 100 degrees different. It seemed a bit surreal. I had never been in temperatures even close to that before, but as we hunkered by the fireplace as a family keeping warm, I was grateful. I looked out my front window to see the snow piled up high. The view was like a Hallmark Christmas card.
Admittedly, the snow can present some challenges when it comes with wind and ice. Last Christmas when we were returning home from spending time with our family, we got quite the shock. We were exiting the airport parking lot when our car window froze open. So, to keep warm as we made the drive home, we sang to the holiday music on the radio. Just then the snow began to fall fat flakes and my husband and I exchanged a knowing smile. What a beautiful sight as we drove home that night in this winter wonderland.