A little over a week ago, we got the first big snowfall we’ve had in years. By big I mean more than a couple of inches. And by snow, I mean not ice, which is much more common in our part of North Carolina.
It was perfect. First it came in a rush of tiny white flakes pouring from the sky and piling up quickly on our deck and lawn. It switched briefly to ice – but only enough to add a pleasant crunch and create a good base for sledding – and then it transformed into those big, beautiful works-of-art that catch on the wind and settle in tree branches.
Best of all, it scared away the gargantuan flatbed truck that’s been parked in front of our house for what seems like weeks now. And it took all the other noisy, gnat-like utility trucks that have been clogging our cul-de-sac along with it.
The quiet was stunning. Blissful. And honestly, kind of weird.
We’ve lived in this house 20 years, and many of our neighbors have been here at least that long. We’ve watched kids take their first wobbly steps on the sidewalk and fly down the hill on bikes and skateboards and scooters. We’ve watched them, fresh from the DMV, back cars tentatively out of the driveway and then – in a blink – pack up for college and new jobs and new lives.
And we’ve spent many a snow day together.
Not that long ago, the hill in front of our house would have been packed by 8 a.m. with shrieking children and schussing sleds. All day long kids would have been in and out of each other’s houses for hot chocolate and chili and a few minutes in front of cartoons. By nightfall, as the temperature dropped and the road got slicker, the parents would join in. Often we ventured to a nearby golf course where someone would build a bonfire in a big metal barrel, and we would take turns sledding down the fairway.
It was pure fun. But it was exhausting, too. Whenever I feel nostalgic, I remind myself that I could easily recreate those days: Just throw a big pile of clothes out in the snow, leave them for an hour, bring them in, let them drip all over the floor, put them in the dryer and then throw them out in the snow again. And repeat. Over and over. All day long.
I have to admit there was something nice about drinking hot chocolate without the incessant tumble of hats and gloves and snowsuits banging around in the dryer. About going down the street to eat soup and grilled pimiento cheese with good friends, sitting by their fire and watching the Olympics on TV. Nobody missing a mitten. Nobody crying about a well-aimed snowball.
Still, I kind of miss those red-nosed, soggy-feet snow days. And I think my husband may miss them even more. I awoke from a nap (yes, a nap – on a weekday), to find my husband coming in from the snow. He and our dog had taken a few runs on the sled. The dog needed some exercise, he said. Yep, I’m sure that’s exactly what the dog needed.