I am in Denver, Colorado, visiting long-time friends and ski buddies Herb and Betty Jacobs. They invited me to come out for some physical and spiritual restoration and rejuvenation. When Betty and I talked on Tuesday, we discussed the unusually warm October weather. But before we hung up, she suggested I bring some “winter wear” because snow was expected on Thursday. I checked the Internet and sure enough, snow was in the forecast. However, being an avid “snow junkie” I am always skeptical about getting my hopes up about white stuff.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw snow. Our family lived in Butler, Georgia, and the boy’s basketball team won a spot in the state tournament in Macon. I was 6 years old and everything in the world was an adventure. Mary and I were mascot cheerleaders and Mama had our uniforms packed for a trip to a big city. We were ready to yell our hearts out for the Butler Bears.
It just so happened that the day that we arrived in Macon there was a rare late winter snow in the south. Mary and I were mesmerized by the white flakes accumulating on cars and covering Dixie in white. Nothing was more magical and although it only lasted a few hours, the sense of awe has lasted a lifetime.
Later, when living in Villa Rica, we awakened one morning to discover that school was cancelled because we’d been hit by a major snowstorm. We were ecstatic despite the fact that phone and electric lines snapped during the night.
I could barely contain my excitement. Mama found bits and pieces of candles, changed the wick in the old lantern from her own childhood and heated water on the gas heater. Mary and I played outside with the Williamson boys taking frequent breaks to come inside to bask in family fun: board and card games, soups, snow cream and hot chocolate. I think it was the winter of 1961 and folks in West Georgia were stranded for at least a week. I could not have been happier.
From that experience forward, I was enamored with how the weather can put a halt to life. I love the fact that there are moments when everything on the calendar can be put on hold in spite of deadlines, obligations and commitments. I especially love how blankets of snow can transform the browns of fall and winter into a pristine wonderland.
Because weather tracking systems were not as sophisticated as they are now, for years, I went to bed every night between November and April hoping that there would be a crystal coating covering the earth when I awakened. Throughout school, snow days meant a bonus holiday that nurtured the desire to nest at home. Of course, after a while, cabin fever set in. I think I was always the last one to catch the fever.
When I graduated from Samford University and trekked to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for my first teaching job, I was excited about the prospect of more frequent snow days. Little did I know that in some areas of the country, snow is little more than a blip on the radar of life. I couldn’t help but hope for snow days all winter long, but more often than not I experienced “delayed start of school” days. It was not the same as staying home cocooned with family and neighbors.
So, when I heard it was going to snow in Denver on the first night of my visit, I watched out the window all evening long, waiting for the rain to turn to snow. About 7 p.m. it did and by 9 o’clock a winter wonderland was in the making. I tried to stay awake to watch the accumulation, but finally succumbed to the sand man.
This morning, I awakened at daybreak and immediately went to the window to take a look. The breaking of dawn added a mystical glow to the Christmas card scene outside the window. Fir trees, bushes and lawns were white-washed with snow.
School was not cancelled and not even delayed. But for me, sitting in front of the fire gazing at the snow laden landscape, the day was mystical. I did some work, read a novel, and reflected on warm memories. It seems like when I needed it the most, the universe provided me with a dramatic and heart-warming change. This morning, I couldn’t help but feel that sometimes snow and a spur-of- the moment visit dear friends is just what is needed to see the world anew.
Garrett, a Carroll County resident, writes a weekly column for the Times-Georgian.