Thursday, January 19, 2012

Let It Snow: A Relationship Story

I never saw snow before I was seven years old. We lived in the South, in places where it didn't snow.

When we moved here, I was 5 months shy of eight years old. We moved here in April, which should have been Spring. And it was, I'm sure, but Spring for here, not the Spring to which I was accustomed.

The school I went to had rules that were different from where I had been before, and they didn't bother to tell me what they were. I guess everyone was supposed to know.  One of those rules was that any student who spoke while in the hallway, was made to leave their coat on the back of their chair and go outside without it for a week.

I have no memory of what I had said or why, but I will never forget the first time I saw snow. It had started after I got to school that morning, and was falling quite heavily by recess. The first experience I ever had with snow was being made to go out in it, in a short sleeved dress, with no coat, having never been anywhere that cold before in my life.

It did not make a good impression.

When I arrived home that day, not wearing my coat, and explained where it was and why, someone made an impression on someone, I'm pretty sure. I was not made to leave my coat on the back of my chair ever again.

As I grew up, I hated snow. Really hated it. Started dreading it as soon as school started in the Fall, and was miserable most of the winter. I didn't ever learn to ski. I had no interest whatsoever in being outside IN the snow all day and into the evening.

The one time I went winter camping, by odd coincidence, I and one other girl were left outside for a couple of hours, told to chip through the ice to make a space big enough to build a fire in. Funny how experiences like that stick with you.

When I spent my junior year of high school in Peru, so I effectively had summer from June of one year to August of the next, I couldn't have been happier about it. When we moved to California for a couple of years, again to a place without snow, I was delighted.

A variety of circumstances led to moving back here, and back to the land of winter. For quite a few years, I continued my very bad relationship with snow. Mostly, if it snowed, we stayed home. If we didn't have to go out somewhere, we didn't.

It wasn't until many years later that I discovered the strangest thing.
It wasn't SNOW that I hated, it was BEING COLD.
If I wasn't cold, snow was fine.

I discovered that I loved shoveling the driveway.
Neighbors on all sides would be out there with their snowblowers, on even on lawn tractors with little plows, or they hired someone with a plow on a pick up truck to come do their driveway.
Meanwhile, I'd be out there with a shovel and a nice hat, having a grand old time.

It really was my first positive experience with snow.

Soon after that, my life got busier and busier, and I simply didn't have time to hate the weather. I just needed to do whatever I needed to do, and didn't really think about it.

A few years ago, my relationship with snow, and winter, progressed further.
I joined the fire department.
Now, the worse the weather is, the more likely I'll be out in it.
I've been out fighting a fire in 20 below zero (fahrenheit) weather, covered with water from the hose, until I was entirely encased in ice.
I've been on the side of the road in a snow storm, more than once, helping rescue someone out of an overturned car.
I've had to go out every hour or so all night long to keep the driveway shoveled enough that we could get out of it to get to the fire station.

And you know... I've been pretty okay with that.

Snow and I are on fairly good terms these days. I can appreciate how beautiful the landscape becomes, clad in a white blanket. I can look out on a midnight scene, with a full moon, and snow sparkling like diamonds.

But mostly, I've discovered something I never knew.
My favorite season isn't Summer.
It isn't Spring.
And no, it isn't Winter, at least not yet.

It's Autumn. Gorgeous colors, cool days and crisp nights. The bugs are gone, but we get occasional warm sunny days, with just enough breeze. Perfect for hiking and camping.

I never knew this, my whole life, because I let my dislike and dread of winter spoil it for me.

There's a lesson in there somewhere.

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