These moments from my recent 2-week holiday visit to the homestead will remain with me…
No matter what it was doing, I was just so glad it was there. Though I pledged, a year or two back, to no longer join in in the Normand pastime of complaining about the weather, I think I can still say with some objectivity that here in this northernly, coastal spot we live in, rain is a frequent visitor. The old-timers here say that snowstorms used to be par for the course but, as the trends continue to go topsy-turvy, we’re mostly served up a lot of could’ve-been-snow: its warmer-climate sister, la pluie.
So, the snow that was present for each and every day of our trip to Massachusetts was simply a godsend.
I love the snow when it is blowing in all directions, big fat flakes turning our world into a snow globe.
I love the snow when it is sitting silently in the deep woods, blanketing every square inch, every fallen tree, every path.
I love the snow when it has transformed the monochrome silhouettes of barren trees into black-and-white masterpieces, contrast gracing every angle and line.
I love the snow when the sun is burning in a huge blue sky and making entire fields sparkle and glow.
I love, love, love the snow in the moonlight, when suddenly you can see your shadow at night, when the whole landscape is highlighted in white, from below and from above.
Though I did consume some tasty bread items, this is not about them. I want to acknowledge the beautiful toast I was present for, made quite simply and spontaneously by a woman, to her husband, in honor of his 70th birthday. He sat near me on the couch, with a heap of gifts around him. She sat across the living room from him. Occupying all the chairs and couches, their children and grandchildren and and a few of us friends formed a circle in this small, divinely cozy New England living room. A small fire crackled, a modest Christmas tree stood in the corner adorned with garlands of popcorn and cranberries. Glasses of wine rested festively on stools and small tables.
Before he opened his first gift, she lifted her glass, and said, in the presence of all of us, “I just think that you’re the most amazing man…” She added another sentence or two but that, right there, was already enough to floor me. 35 years into their life together, having been through their fair share of trials and tribulations, she was able to feel, and say, that the man she is married to is the cat’s meow. As good as she could imagine. Tell me what could be more beautiful.
The kids playing.
I mentioned the wet nature of our usual precipitation in Normandy. This (and surely other factors) contributes to the fact that my children do not usually spend tons of time playing outdoors where I live.
The sheer excitement, enthusiasm, and persistence of my youngest daughter (12), when she considered the snow that she could play in, was for me, an immeasurable pleasure. Two or three times a day, she would don her snowsuit, boots and gloves, and go out. She would stay for long periods of time. Sledding, making angels, having imaginary snowball fights…
Half the time she’d get her sister (14) to go out, too. Then, more sledding. More angels. Snowballs, and snow-people! And, more seldomly, she’d manage to get my old arse to leave my warm hideout and come out to play, too.
Besides being ridiculously beautiful (from far away and way up-close), a field of snow seems to have that thing that a beach of sand has. You just want to get in it and touch it. And shape it. It’s a canvas. Or a lump of clay. It’s a giant, white, zen garden.
Looking out the window and beholding my teen and my tween out there in the vast expanse of snow, I felt downright grateful. Grateful that they were amusing themselves, together. Grateful that they were doing so in the fresh winter air of this hilltop. Grateful that no electronic devices were part of the scene. Grateful that the snow was as clean as it gets. Grateful for the image, perfectly framed by the many-paned wooden frame window, of two growing girls who still remember how to play like it’s their job. Growing up is great and all, but only if you bring those sacred abilities — to play — to imagine — to create freely — along with you. Right?