First Snow

First snow today.  Or so I am told.  Facebook friends told me, either by way of whining post or exalting post.  The mobile Weather Channel told me, with a background like cotton balls falling behind a pane of glass.  It still looked like sleet to me, but we ran out just in case.

Ruby wasn’t sure why I had pulled her into the cold and wet; she turned in circles upon the grass before stopping to cock her head at me.

I looked to the arms of my jacket, now spotted with dark beads.  Each one shone and hung heavily for a moment before disappearing against the fabric, as if I were stuck all over with melting candy buttons.

The grass and the trees were merely dripping; no dusting of white betrayed snow.  Even the roof, surely cold enough to hold flakes, was merely a soggy brown.

We went inside, Ruby running ahead so that she could turn in the living room to look back at me wryly.  Is all the fuss over, then?  She asked, before moving to make sure her stuffed skunk was just where she had left it.


A First

As I was walking home from copy editing with the newspaper; as I passed by the small public library, its parking lot lit with ugly, spiring street lamps, I looked up into the orange glow to see a cloud of white flakes above me, descending silently.  I stopped short to watch.  Tumbling softly over each other, these flakes fell further and further until one single snowflake gingerly stretched out a finger to touch the ground before committing entirely.  I saw that snowflake before it tumbled to the concrete, and after.  I walked out into a clear night, and was still walking when it filled with snow.

Out of all the firsts that all of humankind has witnessed, from the first human mother to hold her first human child; from the men who looked out at the pale expanse of the moon before it held footprints, and who were almost sorry to see its dust stirred into artificial ridges; from  the very first time pen was set to paper, and the very first person discovered the indescribable beauty that lies in describing absolutely anything one pleases; I suspect that my first was rather insignificant.


Badlands, South Dakota. Summer, 2012.

But it felt to me, as firsts often feel, like I had discovered the most important thing in the world, and like, for that first minute, the universe was allowing me to keep it to myself.  I basked, stock-still, for my one minute, and then continued toward home, gazing fondly at the white coating on street and building, as if I had brought it all about.

Of course, my sentimental reverie ended abruptly when I neared home, and remembered my truck, which is still–despite yet more valiant efforts on the part of my gentleman caller, some ice melt, and me this afternoon–stuck on the ice in front of my house.  I wondered if the snow would provide the friction needed for the tires to lurch free.


Snowpocalypse 2013 has come and gone, and while the plows have been out at all hours (I heard them at 2:30 this morning) clearing the streets, the sidewalks are another story entirely.

My walks to campus have now been enhanced with Everest-like snowbanks which must be scaled.



Typically, more often than not, my leg will get stuck or slide out from under me, and I’ll tumble down the slope in front of God and country.  So it goes.

It’s Saturday Night, Take III

We’ll all waiting for some snow.  Francis, the yellow lab next door; the town of Morris; and me.  Funnily enough, we’re due for a winter storm, which will hit between midnight tonight and midnight tomorrow.  Then we’re due for a blizzard, which will hit between midnight tomorrow and midnight on Monday.  A foot of snow total, and white-out conditions.

Meanwhile, I’m eating the Most Delicious Orange in the world, pretending to enjoy my raspberry green tea (it’s bitter, but Dr. Oz told me to drink it, so I’m obeying), and watching Little Miss Sunshine.

And waiting for the storms, of course.

Snow Day

This afternoon, we decided to go down to the lake to shovel off a rink.

It wasn’t too cold with snow pants and jacket on, and the lake was vast and littered with icehouses.  Across the way, we could see bodies moving back and forth, no doubt passing beers and measuring catches.  Every so often, a snowmobile would go by, vibrating on wide skis.  Sometimes the driver would wave to us, but often he wouldn’t.

We carved out a huge rink, plus goals, plus Amy, dope that she is, spelled out “—- [our last name] Arena” with her small shovel.

Ruby ran back and forth with her toy, only pausing to let us pick clods of snow off of her paws.  She pretended to balk when I dumped shovelfuls on her back, but from the way she pranced afterwards, snow sifting down her sides, I suspect she liked the attention.

Minnesota Nice

Only in Minnesota does the first week of December usher in a winter storm on Saturday evening (we got about 8 inches of snow), followed by a blizzard on Sunday evening (gusts of 40 miles per hour, windchill at -30 degrees).

I stayed at a friend’s house last night, as we had a gas leak yesterday (to make a long story short: carbon monoxide is scary, CO sensors are necessary, and we’re all very lucky to be alive). Although the energy company declared us in the clear, I was still feeling nervous about sleeping at Bag End.  Someone from my high school died of CO poisoning when I was in 10th grade or so, and I’ve been extremely wary of it ever since.

Anyway, when I set out this morning, the first step was digging my truck out of the snow.  The second step was driving at a crawl until I reached the turn for my alley.  I thought it would be smart to park there (in our small driveway) instead of on the street, given snowplows would likely be making several passes before Monday.  The snow was deep in the alley, but I didn’t let that stop me: I have a truck!  I am invincible!

I promptly got stuck.  No amount of maneuvering or gas application was helping, so I got out to dig.  Then I walked the two minutes to Bag End to get a shovel so I could dig some more.  Then I slumped against the bed in despair, certain I was meant to die a cold death in the snow, wearing bright blue Boise State sweatpants.  Suddenly, another truck drove down the alley toward me.  The woman in the passenger seat grinned, and the man in the driver’s seat jumped out, grabbed a tow strap from his bed, and hitched me up in the cheeriest and most efficient manner possible.  A few good tugs and I was off the ice my tires had apparently been spinning against for the past half hour and on my way home.

This is why I live in Minnesota, folks.  Because while I was being helped by a stranger, I noticed that a few blocks down, a van had gotten stuck near Casey’s.  Several people had abandoned their pre-blizzard gas pumping in order to push the van out.


This has nothing to do with the above-described blizzard: it’s just a snowy picture of my Dad and Ruby that I happen to love.

Second Snow

I’ve been grinning like a fool all morning, ever since I opened my eyes at 8:15, when my alarm sounded.  I didn’t get out of bed right away; my legs were curled perfectly under mounds of blankets, and my arms inside my sweatshirt and my toes inside my thick socks were warm.  But I knew right away what had happened.

A trip out to the hall window confirmed it.

Snow changes everything.  Even our gravel alley lined with garbage cans looks sufficiently magical.

I was stopped by two trains on my walk to campus, but how could I care with slush at my feet and heavy clouds hanging promisingly above my head?

And then, and then, I walked into work.  Sharon handed me, as she does every few mornings, signs to be posted on specific classroom doors.  The signs announce that a class has been cancelled, and I always imagine this task of mine to be a noble one, for what other announcement causes so much joy amongst students?  But on this particular day, as I posted the signs, I read them: “Cancelled: Latin American History, 2:00-3:40.”  It was my class.  My only class for today has been cancelled.

I suspect I don’t have to tell you that I squealed with delight and jumped up and down and bounded outside to make a snow angel, and then wasn’t even disappointed that there’s not quite enough ground coverage for that kind of joyful expression.

I still have a paper to write today, friends, but Thursday has come through again.