Well, New England, we are in the midst of braving yet another blizzard in our lifetimes, this one named Juno. While there is quite the accumulation out there, I wouldn’t necessarily call it “catastrophic” the way that reporters were saying before the storm hit. However, it has definitely made for an excellent snow day off of work!
As I live by myself in a city with snow bans all around, I decided to go to my mom’s house in a more rural town after work yesterday, before the storm hit. Last night as I went to bed, it didn’t seem that we had gotten much. I was still debating the legitimacy of the storm as I looked out the window one last time around half past midnight. I took a picture to document the amount of snow at that moment.
I slept in until around 10 a.m. (apparently much needed) and upon waking up realized that we had, in fact, been right in the bullseye zone for Juno. As I stared out the glass door, the snow had been wind-drifted into a pile as high as my thighs. But I somehow became excited, feeling like a kid again. Inspired by this, as well as a piece I read in Yankee Magazine about writer Rowland Evans Robinson who loved winter walks, I couldn’t wait to get out there for a snowy adventure.
My mom’s boyfriend has a snowblower, and handled much of the driveway clean-up, but we worked to shovel out our cars and the front porch. It didn’t actually take too much time, and I wasn’t ready to go inside when we were finished. Instead, I set out on a trip around the large backyard, armored against the snow with my fleece lined leggings, trusty winter coat that I had scored for a very low price online at J.C. Penney some years ago, and snow boots I had worn in the 4th grade that my mother kept and I somehow still fit into.
The snow became deeper as I walked, until I found myself slipping down a hill up to the tops of my thighs in fresh powder. I laughed and just stood in my little nook, observing the snow drifts and falling flakes, the sound of a snowblower in the distance and my face growing cold. I slid down the hill and attempted to climb up a wall of rocks that usually made for a nice looking landscape in the summer, but was now being used by me as a mini Mount Washington. Last night, I read an article in NH Magazine about a man named Brad Washburn who scaled mountains and developed maps from the 1930s to the 1980s; I thought about him as I stuck my shovel in between rocks and hoisted myself over them. There is no greater workout than having fun outdoors.
After rock climbing, I continued to trudge through the thigh-high snow and up another hill where the pool resides, sparkling in the sunshine during the summer, but not even visible on this day. As I made my way around it, I used my shovel like an oar, steering the vessel that is my body through the rolling sea of white. As I looked up at the house, the wind made its presence known and sent a burst of snow off the roof like a small avalanche, headed my way. Instead of backing away, I walked towards it.
Around the stairs to the deck snow was piled in large banks, just begging to be jumped into. I felt one of the piles. It didn’t feel very soft, and I wondered if I would hurt myself jumping in. But if we constantly worry about a bad outcome, how will we ever take risks and grow? If I was a kid, I wouldn’t have though twice, and I didn’t want to this time either. I hoisted myself over the railing, stood on the edge of a step and took the plunge. It wasn’t as deep as I had thought, and I went through the pile and landed with a thud that I felt up reverberate up into my skull. I smiled, shook it off, and kept on moving with my shovel as a makeshift walking stick.
The snow was more tightly packed in the front yard, and it was a real leg workout trying to get through it. Instead of gliding through, I had to lift one leg way up and step down, then do the same with the other. I made it back into the driveway and thought it may finally be time to get inside, as I have a circulation issue where my toes swell up when they get too cold. Strange, I know. I walked up to the front door, and seeing the yeti (well, 5’2″ yeti) that I must have looked like, my mom sent me straight to the garage to peel off the snowy layers.
Once inside, we had a comforting lunch of leftover beef and veggie soup, grilled cheese sandwiches and hot chocolate made in the crockpot. It was the best hot chocolate I had ever tasted! It’s rich and creamy, with a true sweetness that is unmatched by the store-bought packets. If I’ve now got you craving a batch, you can find the recipe my mom used here. We sat in front of the back door and watched the snow continue to come down as our hands were warmed by the adorable snowman mugs.
Now, all full and toasty throughout both body and soul, I sit here writing this as the flakes keep falling from the sky. As much we complain about snow, I’ve come to the realization that some of the best days are days like this, where nature forces you to get trapped in your home and yard with family and/or friends, but it turns out you wouldn’t want to have it any other way. It makes us appreciate the little things in life – the way the homes instantly turn into gingerbread houses that appear to be topped with frosting, the childlike wonder that overcomes us as we stare in awe at the unique beauty of snow and the blessings of food and family. And for those who may not be having a great day, or are out there working to keep the rest of us safe, I pray that all will be well.
I don’t know about you, but Juno has certainly put me into a “New England state of mind”.