snow doubt about it, we love snow

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.

“Le Renard” by Guy Servais

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?

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Art by Phoebe Wahl
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.

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When I first read this poem, I immediately thought of Len. In fact, he could have written it.

Art by Sergey A. Tutunov

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.

Art by Jenny Nystrom (1910)

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.

Art by Jenny Nystrom

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.

Art by Vladimir Zarubin (1969)

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 . . .

Art by Gerda Muller
Art by Jungsuk Lee

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.

Art by Ina Hattenhauer

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.” 🙂

Art by Helen Oxenbury

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.

Art by Komako Sakai (The Snow Day, 2006)

Come to think of it, cold weather and snow make me extra hungry.

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☃️ 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! 🙂

Snowball Cookies

  • Servings: 3 dozen
  • Difficulty: average
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (if you choose to bake these right away).
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Cream butter with powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla.
  4. Slowly add flour until incorporated into mixture. Stir in chopped nuts.
  5. Roll dough into small balls, about 2 tablespoons each. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.
  6. Chill dough balls in refrigerator for about 30 minutes if you wish them to keep their round shape (rather than flattening out a little).
  7. Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until they are slightly brown on the bottoms (do not overbake).
  8. 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.
  9. After the cookies are completely cooled, roll them again in powdered sugar.
  10. Store in airtight container. Will keep for several days at room temperature, or up to a week in the fridge (may also be frozen).

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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. 🙂

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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!

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*Copyright © 2021 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

50 thoughts on “snow doubt about it, we love snow

  1. Team cookie here, Jama! I love your reverie to snow – we were ‘flocked in’ here in Switzerland last week. Beautiful to look at, but a pain to get around in.
    Having grown up in So. California, but spending 11 years in Madison Wisconsin has made me appreciate the white stuff. I’m thoroughly impressed by your ‘island girl’ snow sensibilities. ‘Snow doubt about it’, Len has taught you well. 🙂
    In Greene’s poem, I love the lines:
    “the compact blizzard
    as I tumbled from my sled”. I loved sledding with my girls in WI when they were little – my favorite memory from the winters there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hear you — it’s a pain to try to get around when it snows heavily. Len doesn’t seem to mind driving in it, and is never intimidated (again, it’s a NH thing). I’ve been tobogganning only once and it was a disaster. Not enough snow cover on the hillside to cushion any rocks, plus I was in the front (on a 4-person sled) and felt the bumps the most.

      Like

  2. I really love Greene’s poem. I really resonated with me, snow on my lashes and face and skin and rolling around in the snow. Those cookies look yummy. I’m always amazed by the artwork and photos you compile and create for your posts! Such a treat.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ha! This sentence made me laugh–as I am married to one of these as well Mass-New Hampshire natives as well: “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.”
    Your snow art gallery is beautiful…I love all the paintings. And, cookies are perfect because I can enjoy them without the calories. My errrr winter weight has been a bit more than typical this year. ooof! Great post, thanks!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Team cookie, Jama! What a delicious homage by a properly poetic snow appreciator! We haven’t seen much of the white sugar in Colorado this winter, but stay tuned and stay cozy!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jama, what a wonderful blog post to read as I snuggle with my heating pad on this cold winter day. Everything about your post warms my heart, the artwork, poem, cookie recipe, hot chocolate (YUM). I just tweeted it out for others to read. May I share the link to your blog post along with some art work and cookie recipe at my Winter’s Embrace 2021 Global Gallery? I think others would really enjoy what you offer. Since you love Susan Branch recipes have you see Mary’s Mother’s Snowballs, https://www.pinterest.com/pin/531424824753414869/? My mom and I always made them at the holidays. Have a warm day where you are while we freeze here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the link — haven’t made Mary’s Mother’s Snowballs yet (like the chocolate surprise in the middle). Thanks for sharing on Twitter. Yes, feel free to add any pics to your Global Gallery (as long as credits are given to individual artists). Keep warm!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Brrrrrr — anything below freezing keeps me indoors, can’t imagine 6 degrees! You are living in a frozen tundra! Best to keep yourself warm by cooking and baking more of your wonderful recipes. Your blog always makes me drool . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  6. (Team cookie!) Oh, Jama – I smiled through this entire lyrical, lovely post! Love the poem and all these images. Especially the one in my mind, picturing you with those students in Wimbledon when you got to see snow for the first time. I grew up in Florida, so I nodded along with your “Island Girl” perspective. I do have vague memories of snow when we lived in Kentucky when I was a very wee thing – and then on trips to East Tennessee (where I was born) a few times growing up, and definitely in college in Greenville, SC, at Furman, where we’d “borrow” trays from the dining hall to sled down hills on campus…. fun reminiscing on this brrr-chilly morning in the SC Lowcountry! Thank you! (Clinks mugs with you, Mr. C., and the other kitchen helpers.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve heard of people using trays as sleds — so you were one of them! Cool :). I imagine for people who grew up with snow they wouldn’t have a dramatic memory of seeing it for the first time. It was just always there, part of every winter, took it in their stride.

      Like

  7. I do love snow, grew up in it, sledding on a nearby hill where at the bottom we had to avoid sliding into a creek – favorite memory. This week I had the pleasure of staying home & watching the snow all day, going out only to shovel some of the sidewalk & walk around the block, careful not to slip! And those cookies are in my recipe box, too, Jama, my mother’s favorite! I’m glad you learned how not to “lick flag poles” & had fun with those students & your first snow. This is a lovely winter post, made nicer by the beautiful art & Richard Greene’s poem!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing that fun memory — I imagine some of you did slide into that creek on occasion — maybe on purpose? Sounds like you had a good snow watching day, leisurely and peaceful enough to be able to appreciate it all.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Team Marshmallow! I love snow, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ll be 70 in July, I’ve found I appreciate snow more looking at it from inside my cozy home. I grew up in northern Ohio, Cuyahoga Falls to be exact and I have fond memories of ice skating on the pond at my Uncle Gene’s farm, tobogganing down steep hills at the one local park, and the climb back up those hills was brutal. I now live outside of Rochester, NY and until about two weeks ago we had only about 12 inches of snow for November, December and most of January, and I will admit, I missed it! Thank you for the lovely poem and the illustrations, you’ve made my day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hooray for marshmallows! Thanks for sharing your memories, Cathy. I love ice skating even though I haven’t done very much of it. I loved to roller skate when I was growing up and was surprised how easy it was to transition to ice skates. At first I was nervous about balancing on those blades, but it wasn’t hard at all. I’ve been on a toboggan once, and that was enough. I blame my husband for putting me in the front and sledding down a hill where there were rocks and branches sticking up through the snow. Bumpy and not fun at all.

      Like

  9. I’ve always had Russian tea cakes with almonds. I made some for Christmas this year. They look snow-covered when I roll them in confectioners sugar. Great post, very nostalgic for snow days in years where kids were in school instead of home-connecting.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, those cookies! We did indeed know them as Mexican Wedding Cakes until our Italian principal’s wife called them Russian tea cakes many Christmases ago. Having never known Latinx families to eat them, I’ll let the Russian side win. Yummy either way.

    The long-ago boy feelings of the snow was an especially lovely, tender line in that poem. I think the first time I ever saw actively falling snow was in Scotland; prior to then, it was just something you went and visited that sat properly tamely on the hills and dusting the trees. When it’s windy and blowing so much of that snow that you can’t tell up from down, THEN you understand that it is A Big Deal!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sigh, Scotland — that must have been lovely!! And because you were already an adult, you could appreciate it more instead of taking it for granted.

      Like

  11. I am in the I LOVE SNOW and winter camp and a fellow New Hampshire-ite :). NOT a fan of heat & humidity! So happy to be back in New England where I can enjoy real winters again. Today it’s a balmy -6 wind chill ;).

    And I LOVE Russian Tea Cakes!! They are perfect with a cup of tea!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. -6???!! Wow, a teensy bit too frigid for me. But I’m with you on hating heat and humidity. Cold weather is easier to tolerate — you can properly bundle up, but when it’s humid it drains your energy. Yuck.

      Like

  12. My MIL (a New Englander) says there’s no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. I guess. If the weather is colder than a welldigger’s bottom, I’d rather stay indoors and admire the snow from there. I’m Team Whipped Cream, with snowballs on the side. Yum!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I grew up in Southern California, so snow was also surprising to me when I first encountered it. Now I live in Utah now and it snowed just two days ago. We’re hoping for more snow, especially in the mountains, because the state tends to have droughts. I love your writing in this post! It reminded me of when I experienced snow as an adult and was startled by how small snowflakes are. Having cut many a snowflake out of paper, I expected them to be a LITTLE bigger!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL. Yay for snow in Utah. Hope you do get more. That’s funny that you thought snowflakes were bigger! Snow is such an interesting phenomenon. Never realized before that there’s wet snow and dry snow. I’m finally beginning to understand why the Eskimos have so many words for snow (the Hawaiians have hundreds of ways to describe rain).

      Like

  14. Team cookie here! What a wonderful post, Jama! I love all the beautiful art and Greene’s poem. I was especially struck by the line:
    I sense boy-feelings of decades ago
    I sensed “girl-feelings of decades ago” earlier this week as we discussed the anniversary of the Chicago blizzard of Jan. 26-27 1967, when 23″ of snow fell over two days, shutting down the city. I still live in the Chicago area, but we’re expecting only 5-9″ this weekend.
    I don’t have any Russian tea cakes here, but maybe I’ll pull some Italian biscotti out of the freezer to “share” today. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That blizzard reminds me of one we had here years ago — it was about two feet also and everyone was stranded at home for days and days. The plows didn’t get around to our neighborhood for 2 weeks so we all started to shovel the streets ourselves (no one had a snowblower at the time). It was a nice neighbor bonding experience — spaghetti dinners afterwards. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. You had me with the word, ‘snow’! Though I did see it once as a child in Australia (a day trip to the Snowy Mountains while visiting family down south) for me, snow will always mean America, and the beautiful memories I made there, both as a teenager, and again 2 years ago. Snow reflections makes me happy/sad and wishing I was there again. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. What a delightful post chockfull of feel-good art, I think I might just slip or slide into one of your images for the rest of winter… Still smiling, chuckling, and taking it all in. Before I read your post my daughter and husband and I went out for our daily walk and we just had a snow storm a day ago. Walking through the snow made me think of my dad who used to pull me on our steel blade wooden sled a few blocks away to the barbershop. I never seemed to mind waiting in the barber shop because I was with this extra special person who got as much joy pulling me on the sled as I did bumping our way there and back. Thanks for wrapping this post around me Jama, I ❤ it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a lovely memory, Michelle! And wonderful that you, your daughter and husband had a nice, snowy walk yesterday. Forecast said our area is in for the biggest snowstorm in 2 years — starting tomorrow!!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I was going to say I grew up calling these Russian teacakes, and then you said that. 🙂 I loved this post so much! Your reflections on the first time you saw snow were my favorite. I don’t remember the first time I saw it, though from what I know of my biography, it was probably when I was around 4. I do love it, and have some beautiful snowy memories (kissing my boyfriend, no husband in the snow in college is one), but I am an island girl too, by choice though not by birth. In my Facebook memories this morning I saw a post from when my daughter was in college. She had written that it was in the 40s that day and felt so warm that she wasn’t even wearing a coat. My comment: “Chicago, what have you done with my Caribbean child?”
    Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

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  18. I’m going with team marshmallow (I just can’t ruin a cookie by including nuts). But I do share your delight with snow. We’ve had a few light dustings, but this week was our first good snow. I have enjoyed all of it. Now the question is, will we get more snow or a messy wintry mix this weekend?

    Like

    1. I woke up this morning to a world of white — most snow we’ve had all winter. This calls for more cookie baking, this time without nuts. 🙂

      Like

  19. We have two feet of snow outside and my kids just came back in after playing in it.
    I grew up in Chicago and now live in Jersey so snow might now be the most novel thing to me but it never stops being magical.
    The cookies look great but my son is allergic to nuts.. can they be made without?

    Like

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