The Snowman.

February 16, 2014 § 4 Comments

Matthew and the snowmanI grew up in New Jersey.

My grandson, Matthew, is doing the same.

Here he is, making one of the many snowmen that will dot the winters of his childhood.

All will become one in his memory. The Snowman.

Along with birthdays and Christmases, pets and best friends, small, bright winter memories, polished and clear, will travel with him.

Anyone who grew up where the snow flies has them. Here are some of mine.

Shoe-skating on a scrim of new snow.

Snowfall in the woods.For-real skating on Grover’s Mill Pond on Christmas skates. White of course. With toe picks I never went fast enough to use.

Freezing a snowball to throw at my dad in July.

Snow angels.

Snow-building with one mitten, one bare hand (winter stole one out of every pair).

The embroidery of bird foot prints beneath the feeder behind the house.

The miracle of a snow day.

But this time I returned to the place of my childhood winters as an adult. My husband, Ray, and I were acutely aware that we were arriving just ahead of a promised winter storm—and it stirred worry, more than anticipation.

We’d followed this particular winter as it made a series of such promises to the northeast—and then made good on every single one.

In the parking lot of our daughter’s apartment complex, earlier storms were memorialized as icy grey monuments.

With a rise in temperature they would melt away like bad dreams, becoming nothing but puddles on the asphalt.

But this winter they seem permanent.

As adults, our daughter and Will, were responsible for remaining mobile, even if this latest storm scored a direct hit.

And so, in the parking lot, windshield wipers stood at attention to avoid freezing to glass. Antifreeze levels were checked.

How many times could New Jersey hang out a CLOSED sign?

But it did, once again. And when word went out that Rutgers was shuttered for another day it did not produce the exuberant get-out-of-jail free feeling I remember when the voice on the radio announced that West Windsor Schools were closed.

Work went on, Will balancing a laptop computer on his knees on the sofa.

Josie and I braved an unplowed road hoping to beat cabin fever shut in all day with Matthew.

Only Wegman’s was open, and only a handful of people were shopping the deserted aisles.

The magnificent, deep white snow finally got its due when Will took Matthew outside at the end of the day. Snowballs were launched into the trees. We were all invited out to admire their snowman.

But it was really cold, something we, the adults, were quick to notice. Matthew argued that it wasn’t, so we lingered, hugging ourselves while Matthew pranced in the deep powder. We hustled him–and ourselves–inside when the snow stole his shoe.

Still, we were lucky to have a child to remind us that it wasn’t that cold.

A child to stall us long enough for me to realize, there was something familiar about that snowman.

He was missing the carrot nose, but otherwise the resemblance was uncanny.

It was him.

The Snowman.

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§ 4 Responses to The Snowman.

  • Having enough snow fall in Texas to make a snowman more than 3″ tall would have been a miracle when I was growing up. Then in 1954 we moved to Edinburgh, Scotland in January and voila, lots of snow! Enough to make a large snowman (Dad had more fun than we did I think) and went sledding for the first time. Wonderful! No snowman since has topped that one!


  • Craig reeder says:

    For those of us who have lived thru the misery of digging your car out of a slushy, dirty half-frozen mound of snow, or experienced the queasy terror of being in a moving vehicle which is skidding sideways out of control, the conditions you describe can only make us cringe. But thanks for reminding us what the world looks like thru the eyes of a child, a child who has not yet forgotten that the world is like a magic show, mysterious, surprising, delightful. It’s good to remember.


  • KM Huber says:

    Once again, you and I were in “snow” weather simultaneously, albeit thousands of miles apart physically while figuratively, we shuddered from the cold, lingering for others who did not feel the cold as acutely. On my trip, I did not notice a snowman but I certainly felt him. As you note, it was uncanny.


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