Unfolding From the Fog

I am up before dawn, cursing this stage of life that doesn’t let me sleep late on a Saturday. I grab sweats from the floor and dress in the bathroom, while my husband sleeps on.

Downstairs, my dog prances around my feet, eager for her food and walk.

I bundle up for December, unprepared for the mild outside air. I step out the back door into another realm, my backyard transformed. Grateful now for an early awakening, we wander and linger as the sun rises through the fog.

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Snowstorm

After weeks of rainy gray days that almost pass for early spring, it snows. For a couple of hours there are whiteout conditions, especially if you are in the car following a plow. I slow down with a sigh.

It’s packing snow, the right kind for snow balls, snowmen and forts, and I know kids across the area have been waiting wistfully for the chance to go sledding. At least someone will enjoy it.

Once home I look out the window and think back to other winters, other snows…

…I’m ten years old, content to huddle inside with a book on a cold winter day. I’m lost in The Long Winter, dreaming of being snowed-in on the prairie…

…I get the call early in the morning before light. Snow day! I’d love to crawl back into bed, but my little girls are up. After breakfast, we bake chocolate chip cookies and I make a pot of vegetable soup. Then we bundle up and head outside, to battle with half-hearted snowballs and build a snowman taller than all of us, sacrificing a hat and scarf to warm its frozen neck and head…

…I’m eleven. My dad takes all four of us to a park with a great sledding hill. We take turns on two sleds, gliding down the slope at breakneck speed, coasting to a stop and trudging back up to go again. My dad takes a few turns belly-flopping down the hill, my little brother on his back…

…I am thirty-seven, learning to ice skate for the first time, in a class with my daughters. I take joy in gliding around the ice and take comfort in the instructor’s instructions on how to fall. A little girl in the class looks at me doubtfully and says, “My mom wouldn’t do this…”

…I am twenty-five, driving an almost new Mazda on the dry interstate, on the three-hour drive to the city I grew up in, when the snow starts. It’s sticking to the road and I slow down to forty-five. Travelers fall back, suddenly cautious like me. Two cars ahead of me, the driver loses control and goes into a spin. I let off the gas and cautiously try to switch lanes, guessing I won’t stop in time. Then I am spinning, swerving backwards and to the side, heading for the guardrail. I tense for an impact that doesn’t come. I come to rest a few inches from the guardrail, facing the wrong direction and parallel to the car I had been following. He in turn is stopped nose-to-nose with the car that went into the spin, which is also facing backwards. They are mere inches apart. The guy in the car next to me gets out and runs to my window. Hands on the roof, he leans down to see me better.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

I say yes and he runs to the other car to check on the driver. Next, he is standing on the highway directing traffic so we can both turn our cars around and be on our way. I’ll forever be grateful and wonder if he was an off-duty police officer…

…We are playing in the backyard, trying to train our husky mix to pull a kid’s sled. She doesn’t like being hooked to the rope, but likes to take the rope in her teeth and pull. My little girls are taking turns sitting on the sled to be pulled. It’s big sister’s turn and little sister is put out. She stalks off to the edge of our property, little arms crossed in a snit because her turn wasn’t long enough. Our dog looks at me, waiting for me to go after her, but I can see she’s fine and I set her older sister up for her ride. I stand back and big sister gets the ride of her life as our husky takes off across the yard to herd little sister back to her parents…

…I am seven.  Where it typically snows inches, this storm has snowed feet. Once the adults in the neighborhood have carved out paths where sidewalks should be, the side walls are so tall I can barely see over them. My sister and I circle the block, walking tall from drift to drift…

…My daughter is just one, wearing her new snowsuit for the first time. Proud parents, my husband and I take pictures and build her a snowman just her size. She’s most impressed by his carrot nose and soon wants it for her own…

…It is now and I think back to other snowstorms, snowmen and forts, sledding and snowboarding, ice skating and skidding down highways, as the sun comes out and the snow starts to melt.