"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Wherein this March snowstorm reminds me of another March snowstorm

Back in 2004, I wrote these two short stories about my children.  They were around the ages of eight and ten at the time.  I share them with a bit of trepidation, due to the quality of the writing and personal nature, but the memory of writing them came to me this morning.  On this March 19th snow day, as my family was reluctantly heading out to shovel, my now 18-year-old son said, "I used to like shoveling until this winter.  I mean it was fun to head out in the first storm, now my back already hurts thinking of it."  I couldn't help but to think of these stories. 

I, too, am slightly done with winter, my comment today is, "-->does not remember saying anything untoward to Mother Nature, but sincerely apologizes nonetheless and would like to declare a truce."
Happy~ish Snow Day ~Jennifer

 December Storm
The air coming in through the open bedroom window felt damp.  Madeleine pushed off her covers, got out of bed, and padded across the floor to the window.  She pulled back the curtain.  The yard was covered in a thick blanket of snow.  Her eyes grew wide and excitement coursed through her body.  Madeleine had been waiting for the first snow of the season.
            Running into her parent’s bedroom she quickly threw up the shade and exclaimed, “Mom, Dad, look!  It snowed last night!”  From the other room a sleepy voice called out, “How much?”  Madeleine replied, “Enough.  Let’s go!” 
Madeleine and her younger brother Nicholas ran down the stairs in their pajamas.  They ignored their grumbling stomachs and passed through the kitchen without stopping for breakfast.  Who needed food?  This was the moment they had been waiting for.  Their winter gear had been brought down from the attic a few weeks before and they had been eagerly eying it hanging unused on hooks by the door.  “My favorite hat!” said Madeleine as she pulled it from the basket.  “My snow pants are so warm,” said Nicholas.  “Hey! Remember? We got new mittens at the end of last winter.”  Each piece of winter clothing was impatiently pulled on.
Outside the world looked new.  Madeleine and Nicholas breathed in the cold winter air.  It stung their noses and filled their lungs.  They took another deep breath enjoying the cold but damp, snowy air.  Then they went straight to work.  The sleds were pulled from the shed and the shovels were lined up along the house.  Then the two children grabbed the sleds and headed for the hill in the backyard.  This was the best sledding, fresh snow meant fresh tracks. 
Madeleine and Nicholas each wrote their own stories in the snow.  Nicholas, who liked to go fast and bail out of his sled near the bottom (rolling head over heels and getting covered in snow), left tracks straight down the hill with a wide area of disturbed snow at the bottom. Madeleine, who liked a longer, slower cruise, left graceful, curving tracks in the new snow.  Up the hill they climbed and down the hill they glided until their legs grew tired.  Then they sat down, quenched their thirst with mittens full of snow, and rested.  They needed to save energy for shoveling.
Up the hill they climbed again and left their sleds at the top.  Madeleine and Nicholas headed for the driveway and began to make paths and roads through the snow.  Truck noises filled the air as the two industrious workers cleared the roads. It was not the most efficient method, but it was fun.  From the house, the driveway looked like a maze, although a maze with no recognizable entrance or exit. 
“Who wants warm maple syrup on snow?” Their mom called from the porch.  “We do!” they replied.  Madeleine and Nicholas eagerly collected snow in the bowls given to them and headed inside, their faces flushed and rosy. 
The inviting smell of homemade waffles filled the house.  Madeleine and Nicholas quickly peeled off damp layers of gear and left them in a heap on the floor.   They grabbed their bowls of snow and headed for the kitchen.  “Mom, will you help us hang up our gear?  We want to go out again after breakfast,” asked Madeleine.  Smiling, because she felt their joy, their mother hung up their wet gear around the furnace and on every possible surface. 
As the children sat at the kitchen counter eating fresh waffles and warm maple syrup on snow, they talked about all the fun they would have this winter.  Unspoken in their conversation was that they knew this day was special.  It was the first snow of the season and the first snow is always the best snow.

March Storm
The children slept soundly in their beds.  The air coming into their bedrooms from the open windows was cool and had that damp quality of spring precipitation.  Madeleine was snuggled deep in her covers.  She stirred and opened a bleary eye.  She could smell the dampness in the air.  It’s snowing, she thought.  She turned on her light and began to read
A while later Nicholas called out from his bedroom, “Are you awake?  It’s snowing.”
“I know,” answered Madeleine.
“Do you want to go out?” asked Nicholas.
Madeleine, still snuggled in her covers with her head propped up on two pillows and her book on her chest, replied, “Not yet, I’m reading, but maybe after breakfast.”
Her mom poked her head in the door, “We’re going down to make breakfast.”
“Alright, I’ll be down in a while.” replied Madeleine.
“Let me know when it’s ready.” added Nicholas, who was busy arranging his rescue vehicles around a block building.
When the smell of blueberry pancakes came drifting up the stairs, Madeleine reluctantly put down her book and made her way down stairs to the kitchen.  Over breakfast of pancakes, warm maple syrup, bacon and orange juice, the family decided what the plans should be for the day. 
Dad asked, “Who wants to help shovel? “
Nicholas responded, “Can’t you use the snow blower dad?”
“Not on this snow, it’s too heavy for our machine,” replied the dad.
“Okay,” said Nicholas, “I’ll help shovel, just let me finish building my Lego ship.”
“I’ll help too, when I’m finished building this airplane.” Madeleine added.
Their parents headed out to begin shoveling.  The street was dressed in a blanket of snow.  The trees looked liked dancers, gracefully extending their decorated limbs.  A little while later the children appeared on the scene.  Everyone shoveled for a while.  This was not the play shoveling of December, but the get-it-done shoveling of March.  Madeleine and Nicholas grew tired and headed for the back yard.  “Want to make a fort?” asked Nicholas.
“Sure, let’s use this pile from shoveling for one of the sides.  You start collecting snow from over there,” directed Madeleine.  They hauled and packed snow until they had created a small fort.  There was even a window from which to watch people or throw snowballs, a feature tested on the unsuspecting parents.  Spring snow is packing snow and what better item to pack than a snowman. The zigzagging paths across the backyard resulted in one large and one not so large snowmen.  They faced the back of the house, as if watching it.  There was a scramble to find accessories and then a call to witness the final product.  “Well done!” cheered the children’s parents as they admired the snowmen. 
 It was well past lunch and time to head in.  They were hungry after their busy morning.  It had been a fun morning, not as much fun as the first snow of the season, but snow, at any time, always brings a fresh blanket of opportunity when it arrives.

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