Snow Memories

As a Manitoba Mennonite, snow factored hugely into my childhood. Manitoba is very cold, dark, and snowy for much of the year. And, I was born into a farming family. Rural, isolated. There was a lot of snow and not much else.

As the eldest child, I was often let outside, left to my own devices, for what felt like hours at a time.

Some of my first memories are likely from when I was around 3 years old. I was first dressed in layers upon layers of winter garb which was the source of much frustration for both my mother and I. Upon my release into the frozen wild, I tried to get as far from the house a possible. I suppose both my mom and I needed that time apart.

The snowdrifts were my nemesis. I was up to my neck in snow, frantically paddling to make some kind of headway, before realizing I could turn this drift into a chalet of sorts. A snowy project emerged. Upon completion, I would sit with great satisfaction within my new estate. Clear crisp bright blue light illuminated dazzling crystals everywhere. I was especially proud of the little chair I had created for myself by piling some snow and then sitting right in the middle and wiggling a bit. It was just right.

There was an especially large snowdrift next to the barn, just outside the milkhouse. My grandma would toss a pailful of hot water out that door every day. I forget why, but it was a thing. In summer the water would flow the short distance down the grassy decline to the driveway. But in winter, the swoosh of water would penetrate the tall billowing drift, creating a whole other icy wonderland! One day I gingerly crawled over the ice that coated the drift, hoping I wouldn’t break through. Success! I made it to the cavelike opening where the hot water would slice through the drift, and I ventured through the portal. I was stunned to discover the interior gilt with sparkling icicles everywhere.

When I was especially small, my harried mother put me outside even though I protested a great deal at this arrangement. Angry, I faceplanted into a snowbank, no doubt thinking that’d show her. Then, with my face still planted directly into the snowbank, I opened my eyes, and saw something incredible — snow, up super close to my eyeballs. I blinked and blinked, hot tears clinging to my lashes, melting little orbs of space in the snowy depths, revealing shades of sapphire and white light and crystalline shapes such as I had never seen before. In the face of such beauty, I found calm. I forgot my anger and became lost in the glittering world before me.

Just a few of my childhood memories with snow. Now that I’m all big and old I don’t often play in snow anymore, but I miss it. Snow still makes me happy, especially when it’s freshly fallen. It also makes it easier to read many plaques, as the snow highlights the raised words when you try to brush them off.

Why don’t adults play in the snow more often?