The winter storms of the last couple of weeks are finally becoming little more than a memory now that March has arrived. But, I admit the words “Snow Day” can still make me feel like a kid again. Do you remember waiting, waiting…waiting to hear that your school was closed on snowy days? As soon as that was announced I couldn’t wait to pull on my warmest coat, boots, hat and mittens and run outside to build snow people and sled down the slope in our front yard.
The day would not be so filled with carefree fun for my father, however. He still had to go out and milk May, our Jersey milk cow, feed the cattle and make sure all of the rest of the animals were safe and tended. Sometimes I would tag along, trying my best to stretch my gait enough for my feet to reach my father’s footsteps in the snow. For me, shadowing my dad was as much fun as flinging myself down a hill on my trusty Western Flyer. For him, it was just another work day, only colder, wetter and with a lot more snow.
These days I prefer to spend my Snow Days inside with a cup of hot chocolate, a toasty fire going and a good book. With plenty of firewood carried in, book in hand, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies nearby and the snow building up outside, I quickly relaxed into not having a set schedule and doing pretty much whatever I wanted. I even enjoyed the first few times I had to shovel my walkways. It was, after all, a good way to burn off those cookies. But by the third day I was so bored I cleaned the house and did my taxes. Things were obviously deteriorating quickly.
Cabin Fever had a grip on me and the best cure I could think of was taking my dog Sam out for a walk. Without consciously planning to do so we ended up wandering along the same path that I had once walked with my dad out to milk May. I never know when memories of growing up here will be triggered. My parents were so much a part of this place that their absence has become a presence. Sometimes I bump into them when I run across an object from my childhood, like a toy or tool. Sometimes it’s as simple as touching a hand-turned candle holder my father made in his shop or looking at one of my mother’s plants that somehow has managed to remain alive despite my not inheriting my her green thumb.
And sometimes it’s a Snow Day and I find my father’s footsteps still leading me through the deepness.