Of Forts and Frivolity

What is it, I wonder, about snow, especially a big snowstorm, that elicits playful, child-like behavior in so many of us? As long as we have a warm house to receive us when we’re done, freshly fallen snow is like a magic kingdom, even for adults, and even if, momentarily, we get our jeans and jackets soaking wet.

It isn’t because we’ve never seen crystal precipitation, although, watching a child or a visitor from another climate zone is endearing. It is isn’t only when no work is involved, for some of us pick up the shovel to clear the sidewalk one moment, only to use the shovel as a makeshift sled the next. Four-wheeling in the driveway? You bet!

It is much easier for adults to share this pleasure when absolutely no sane chance of getting to work in a normal vehicle is possible. Believe me, I’ve had enough knuckle-tightening drives in the last few weeks to prefer home if I’m able.

Still, I wonder if it is this forced stoppage of regular routine is part of the wonder. For a short time, providing we experience no life-threatening emergencies, we give ourselves permission to look, to see, and to hope in the renewal and the promise of sustenance the freshly fallen snow brings.

When the day of reckoning with the snowstorm arrives, and the plowing must begin, one may still anticipate the joyful abandon of a child. For where new mounds of snow are created, snow caves and snow tunnels fill the imaginations as much as lobbing snow balls from behind snow forts. And then, as temperatures rise, we turn to snow art and ice figures.

Usually, of course, we become all rational come Ground Hogs Day. This year, I guess we’ll enjoy the moment a little longer.