This Is What Real Snow Is

The forecast this weekend mentions an 80% chance of snow on Sunday. The high will be 40°, and today is 60° so the chance of any significant or insignificant accumulation is pretty low.

That’s too bad.

It snowed in January. I ended up with between 3″ and 4″ at my house. I liked it. The dog liked it. It was … okay. It was not the snow event I’d been hoping for, waiting for.

I guess we’ve already had our once-a-decade big snow in 2003. For that snow, I was in Las Vegas and missed the flakes coming down. I also missed coming home when I was supposed to thanks to a snow closure at Philadelphia International, but that was okay. Worse places to be than Las Vegas for an extra day, and the guys at the parking lot helped shovel out my car. I somehow ended up being charged a vacation day for that day even though my then employer was closed because of snow emergencies, but I’m not bitter about that anymore … really.

What I am bitter about is the lack of big snow. I like snow. I want several feet of snow every winter. And not a seasonal accumulation of several feet. I want multiple snowstorms, each delivering several feet of snow to my house.

Snowstorm of 1983
Digging out in 1983

It used to be like that. I don’t think it’s just the gauzy film of memory. This snowstorm, for example, in 1983. That’s what I’m talking about. Okay, maybe my dad didn’t relish shoveling our driveway multiple times during the snowfall, but my entire family liked taking walks in the snow and how it looked. My mom felt so strongly about the look of a snow-covered lawn that any playing in the snow was restricted to the backyard so our footprints wouldn’t sully the front yard.

So we played in the back yard. One winter, an thick icy crust formed on top of the snow. My sister and I were little and light enough that we could lay down on the snow and not break the surface. I remember us pulling ourselves across what was in our minds an icy tundra. If we didn’t reach the clothes poles in time and hang on, we’d slip away into …. Okay, I don’t remember what terrible, horrible, awful fate awaited us, but it was bad, trust me.

1985's Snow Elephant
1985's Snow Elephant

Penny and Dad also developed the art of snow sculptures. Sure, we all made snowmen in the back yard, but balanced balls of snow was kids’ play to my family. Penny and Dad created snow mice and snow elephants.

And before the dangers of acid rain went public, we’d eat snow pudding. I no longer remember what else was in it, but the base was a big bowl of snow. Maybe Mom added vanilla or sugar, I don’t know, but snow pudding was pretty tasty.

Dad taught at an elementary school in the district in which we lived. While this had its drawbacks (he knew our teachers better than most parents), it had its pluses. Growing up, I never had to listen to the radio to hear our district number announced. I don’t think I ever knew what the district’s number was.

If snow were in the forecast, Penny and I would lie in bed in the morning, waiting for the phone to ring to tell Dad of a two-hour delay or, better yet, a snow day. The call usually came well before we had to get out of bed, at least when we were in elementary school. Once I reached middle school, the day started much earlier so I had to get up earlier to catch the bus. If Jim O’Brien or Dave Roberts had mentioned even the slightest possibility of snow the night before, I’d wake up before my alarm and stare at the numbers flipping over. Would the call come before the alarm? What was the latest I could get up after the alarm first went off? Nothing in my mind was worse than getting up and starting to get ready for school only to have to go back to bed. I much preferred never having to get out of bed at all.

Now I’m adult. I don’t get snow days, although I am lucky enough to work for a company that permits some work-from-home days for bad weather. I still get excited though by the smiling snow flake on channel 6. And I’m disappointed when the ground’s too warm for any accumulation or the promised 6+” turns out to be 1″ or 2″.

I’ll nod pleasantly enough when friends and coworkers grumble about snow in the forecast. I’m the one hoping for feet of snow regardless of the predicted amount. Inside, I’m still that little kid, waiting for the phone to ring.

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2 thoughts on “This Is What Real Snow Is

  1. That snow elephant is beautiful! Quite a creation.

    I remember the snowstorm of… I think it was 1992? 91? The snow drifted so severely that there was a large hill I could have walked up to the roof of the garage. But, really, I couldn’t walk anywhere because I was about three feet tall, dressed head-to-toe in a blue snowsuit, and the snow was so powdery that half my body sunk immediately. I basically stood there, occasionally tipping from the waist to lick the snow.

    Sigh. I miss those days.

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