Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Snow Angels

There are some things you should just never outgrow. Enjoying yourself in the snow is one of them. Mind you, I am aware that as I get older the onset of winter isn't quite filled with all the joy it used to carry when I was a child. For starters, I have to drive in it now. I also have to contend with heating bills, shoveling the walk and the driveway, and other related chores that go a long way towards making me more likely to swear at those first flakes than to rush out and catch them on my tongue.

That said, there are certain things that go with the season that help me maintain some of the childhood fascination. There is of course Christmas, but as that is now long past and winter's not yet over - no matter what the groundhog says, it's always six more weeks at least – I have to look for joy elsewhere.

One of those is something I rediscovered only last year. Now, I've made at least one snow man every year for the past four years, ever since my little one was old enough to walk out into the snow. And while I've yet to achieve a Calvin and Hobbes level of sophistication and perfection in my snowmen, there's still something to be said for being able to stand back and admire your handiwork. If I don't put my back out trying to lift the middle section into place.

Snow angels, on the other hand, weren't something I hadn't attempted for probably decades. You reach a certain age and suddenly flopping around on your back in the snow doesn't seem like the cool and awesome idea it was when you were six. Probably right around the time wearing a hat in the winter seems to much of a trade-off between being cool and being warm.

For some reason though, maybe having to do with the transcendent levels of joy it seemed to bring my little one and her cousins, I gave it a go last year. After making sure the snow was properly white (we were on a farm, after all) I flopped back, waved my arms and legs, and stared up into the falling snow.

There was no choir of angels, no revelations from above, and I got snow on my glasses.... yet... there was something quietly Zen about the whole experience. I'm not saying it ranks up there with rock gardens and tea ceremonies, but it was calming and rather peaceful. (Until my daughter launched herself onto my midsection.)

I think it has as much to do with the perspective you get as it does the quieting effects of all that snow and garb. Having a hat pulled down over your ears drowns things out, and for a brief moment you're left with nothing but you're contemplation of the open sky - and a couple of trees - way up above you. On a clear day it almost feels like you could fall into it.

Like all such moments it's fleeting, and eventually you have to get up. I suppose I could just lie back in the snow and not make a snow angel at all, yet like the tea ceremony there is something inherent in the process that makes it an important part of the experience, not just the end results. So I'll flail my arms and legs, and try and get up without making a mess of the pattern, and then stand back and contemplate my snow angel.

Then hold onto that memory until the time comes to do it again.

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