It’s snowing! As I type this, we’re delighting in the first snowfall of the season. Big fat fluffy flakes are drifting down from the sky, coating each bare branch and gently blanketing the earth as if to tuck it in for the rest of winter.
No doubt about it, snow is magical — silently transforming the world, making it appear so pristine.
On a day like today, it’s nice cozying up indoors, safe and warm, gazing out the window while noshing on hot chocolate and snowball cookies. Join me?
STILL DELIGHTING IN SNOW by Richard Greene I still delight in snow some seventy years after I first did. Though my body now is tentative, my spirit weary of life's contests, I still take pleasure in that world of whiteness just as I did when I resided in a frame so small I can no longer remember how it felt. Was I an infant? No way of knowing, but when I see snow fall I sense boy-feelings of decades ago, flakes on my lashes, against my skin, the bracing scent, the compact blizzard as I tumbled from my sled a scattering of cold powder turning my eyebrows white, as now do other causes, my clothes encrusted the wetness soaking through, the warm kitchen where I disrobed ("Get out of those wet clothes!" my mother said) fading into the one where I sit now tapping out this poem.
When I first read this poem, I immediately thought of Len. In fact, he could have written it.
Just like Greene, whenever Len sees snow — even just a flake or two, he’s a little boy again and out comes that silly grin.
I suppose this is typical of most New Hampshire natives. Winters where snow covers the ground for months on end is par for the course. These thick-blooded, practical-minded, fiercely independent people are born wearing long johns, flannel shirts, fleece-lined jeans and down parkas, their appendages adorned with waterproof gloves and fur-lined boots, comfy knit hats atop their heads. When it comes to snow, they know how to shovel it, drive in it, play in it, build with it.
A blizzard coming, with a predicted accumulation of at least three feet? No problem. Throw another log on the fire. Let’s hunker down!
Now, being from Hawai’i, I’m an entirely different animal. Snow was foreign, exotic, the stuff of fairy tales, “White Christmas,” and Dr. Zhivago (“Yuri, oh, Yuri!”). I inhaled John Greenleaf Whittier’s “Snowbound: A Winter Idyll,” and have recited Robert Frost’s, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” more times than I can count. Snow was a fantasy dreamworld until I moved to England in the late 70s.
I admit the first time I ever saw snow in person was on a hillside somewhere in Switzerland (college summer tour). It wasn’t falling from the sky, though, just lying there in a heap, packed and indifferent (nowhere near as friendly as Swiss chocolates). So that time doesn’t really count.
But — while discussing Wordsworth with ninth graders at an American school in Wimbledon, a light snow began to fall, a strange sensation to be sure. Were those dust particles, feathers from a broken pillow, or flour shaken through a giant sieve?
First one student, then another, and another.
“Look!!” “It’s snowing!!” “This is the first time Miss Kim is seeing snow!”
They all jumped out of their seats and ran to the window, Wordsworth’s daffodils immediately forgotten. Although they’d seen snow falling before, they all acted like it was their first time too. Of course the rest of that class period was shot. No one could settle down, least of all their teacher.
Snow is magical that way. It prompts a child’s wonder, no matter your age. It has a way of making itself new again, over and over.
I was glad for our mid-morning revel; come to find, there was only one other time in three years that it would snow while we were in London (and just a dusting). Lots of rain in England, but not much snow . . .
Actually, I’m a bit jealous of Len, or anyone else who’s grown up with snow. He has all those good memories of building snowmen and snow forts, sledding down steep hills, making snow angels, having serious snowball fights with all the kids on his street, ice skating, and skiing. Len did a lot of downhill skiing in his time, was in a college ski club, and counts a pair of wooden family heirloom skis among his most prized possessions. Shortly after I met him, I knew the way to make his eyes light up was to casually include words like, “Cannon Mountain,” “Wildcat” or “Tuckerman’s Ravine” in the conversation.
Yes, I do romanticize snow, admiring it from afar in its picture postcard perfection. In reality, I don’t like shoveling it, or driving in it, or worrying about power outages or ice dams during blizzards (we’ve had our share of water damage). Speaking of ice, I hate how treacherous it can be when it coats highways or sidewalks. I can definitely pass on freezing rain, sleet, or “wintry mixes.”
But I am an expert at snow appreciation — taking in the beautiful sight of our shrubs wearing charming powdered sugar hats (spindly tree branches majestically frosted in white lace), identifying fox, deer, and squirrel prints, marveling at the size of icicles once snow melt has begun. I like snow’s power to hush the world, make it stop its crazy spinning, as if Mother Nature is saying, “Be still and see what I can do.” 🙂
Just as important, I can now take pride in my late-in-life lessons about dressing in layers, never licking flag poles, keeping my feet dry and head covered, the wonders of down, avoiding yellow snow, why mittens are warmer than gloves, how to tell snow is coming by looking at the sky and smelling the outside air. Not bad for an island girl.
Come to think of it, cold weather and snow make me extra hungry.
☃️ Snowball Cookies ⛄️
I’m sure you’ve seen (and likely eaten) oodles of these cookies before. They’re also called Mexican Wedding Cookies, or what I grew up calling them, Russian Tea Cakes. All good. Like shortbread, no eggs required.
Though they’re most often enjoyed during the holiday season, we like them year round since they’re so easy to make. Problem is, here in the Alphabet Soup kitchen, if we happen to serve them with cocoa, sometimes a little snowball fight ensues. Are you Team Cookie or Team Marshmallow? Enjoy! 🙂
- 1 cup butter
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup finely chopped nuts (pecans are good)
- more powdered sugar for rolling cookies, about 1/2 cup
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (if you choose to bake these right away).
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cream butter with powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla.
- Slowly add flour until incorporated into mixture. Stir in chopped nuts.
- Roll dough into small balls, about 2 tablespoons each. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.
- Chill dough balls in refrigerator for about 30 minutes if you wish them to keep their round shape (rather than flattening out a little).
- Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until they are slightly brown on the bottoms (do not overbake).
- Remove from oven and let the cookies cool on sheets for a few minutes until you can comfortably handle them. Sift powdered sugar into a medium bowl, then roll each cookie in the sugar while they are still warm. Place them on a cooling rack.
- After the cookies are completely cooled, roll them again in powdered sugar.
- Store in airtight container. Will keep for several days at room temperature, or up to a week in the fridge (may also be frozen).
So, do you remember the first time you ever saw snow? Or do you have a favorite snowy memory? Please have more cocoa and cookies and tell us all about it. 🙂
Jan at Bookseed Studio is hosting the Roundup. Bundle up, then head over there to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere this week. As always, stay safe, be well, wear your mask, and enjoy the weekend!
*Copyright © 2021 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.