Snowstorms can be comforting

There’s something deliciously comforting about a snowstorm—the feeling you get when you are tucked inside your house safe and warm while the road and weather reports say roads closed, businesses closed, schools closed, all events cancelled.
The feeling when the cupboards are reasonably stocked with staples like potato chips and cookies (I mean, salad fixings and lots of vegetables) and when the generator is sitting ready just in case.
A storm under these conditions is just the ticket to curl up under a blanket with a good book or a kakuro puzzle (despite your claim of having kicked this particular habit).
Last week I was in the middle of just such winter bliss. I could barely see across the road, the windows were covered, the screens catching hold of the blowing snow, the fire roaring, the wood box full.
I could stay in my comfy clothes—the ill-fitting ones that would not pass any fashion test. No one was coming to the door to adjudicate my presentation, so I was safe from that kind of scrutiny.
I did, however, have to venture to the barn; to take the pony some warm water and treats, and make sure he has enough of what he needs to be comfortable.
He doesn’t mind the nasty weather. He would turn his rump against the wind; drop his head to protect his ears, his thick wiry Welsh coat repelling the snow. But I prefer (for my own peace of mind, not his) that he is tucked in his stall, bedding up to his knees, the manger full, and a pail of warm-hot water.
He will shake his head at me, his full heavy mane (enough for six ponies) covering his face. “You call this a storm,” he’d say if he could. “My ancestors on the moors. . . .”
Too bad; I’m in charge. I’m the one with opposable thumb.
I took “Gracie” with me to the barn because she loves the snow; digs into it until most of her has disappeared in search of some imaginary prey. I will lie in the snow, my arms outstretched, my face tucked beneath the scarf wrapped several times around my head, my eyes closed contemplating the insignificance of my complaints.
Maybe I should tie a rope to the house so I can find my way back, like a pioneer on the prairies might have done.
I do recall walking to the barn with my father in a nasty, nasty snowstorm and he wouldn’t let go of my hand; said the storm might swallow me whole. And I knew I was safe, my hand in his, as though he were my very own super-hero. Sigh.
There was a time when I could recite the number of snow days my children had each winter. I would throw open their bedroom doors and sing some merry tune while I announced school was closed.
It’s much easier to leap from bed when you’re 10 when you know you don’t have to go to school; when you have the whole day to build forts in the living room or bake cookies.
Playing the piano on a snow day wasn’t practising; it was just for fun. Making your bed on a snow day was optional because you might just crawl back in. There was no routine on snow days—just utter and complete freedom.
The thing about snowstorms in February is I’m foolishly convinced (beyond hopeful, in fact) that this will be the last; this is just winter raising her mighty hand in a grand gesture of farewell—despite whatever that blasted groundhog said.
I almost smugly listen to the wind and watch from my front window as the drifts build and reshape and think, “That’s right. Get it out of your system,” like what you might say to a child who has just been told she can’t get something she was counting on and a bit of a temper tantrum has developed.
You smile your most understanding empathetic smile and wait until things quiet down.
Trouble is, winter always seems to get the last word.
wendistewart@live.ca

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