January and February in Minnesota tend to be one long slog if you don’t find a way to embrace the wonders of winter. Even with global warming there is too much darkness and too much cold. The saggy old couch next to the fireplace is much more inviting. Unlike Brother Mine and Dear Hubby, I did not learn to ski as a child. On an ill-fated grade school field trip, I discovered that my indisputable physical grace was at sixes and sevens with the logistics of strapping speeding sticks of death to my feet and careening pell mell down a nearly vertical drop. Bunny Hill my ass! Likewise, the few times I attempted the fool’s pursuit known as ice skating, the physics of skate blade against slick ice resulted in a concussion. Did I mention my indisputable physical grace?
However, my first born darling Bear Boy takes to the snow like a polar bear all hopped up on seal blubber. The kid is a natural. The other day he announced he was going on a dangerous expedition to Antarctica with Shackleton. He bundled himself in the usual snow gear, supplemented by a plastic sword, a snow shovel, a short length of rope and a walking stick. I watched from the dining room window as he roamed the frozen unknown of our backyard. When the snowplows became trapped in the frozen tundra of the sandbox, he sailed down the snow slick slide on his snow-pant-ed tookus. He hid out under the boughs of the pine tree in the far corner of the yard and, rather than succumbing to an ignoble to-build-a-fire end, he clawed his way to the top of the berm using the handle of his sword as an ice ax. When he came in for his hot chocolate and marshmallows, he proclaimed the ship had been lost, but he and his men had made it to the safety of Elephant Island.
Watching his snowy adventures, I remembered a time when I welcomed newly fallen snow as an invitation to a day of fun. When I was a child I spent many happy winter days on my grandparents’ farm. Grandpa Leo, in his old John Deere, plowed snow up against the old white shed that had once been a chicken coop, creating a brilliant sledding hill from the peak of the coop roof on down. It was glorious. We kids were driven back into the house only when our snow-pants and jeans and long underwear were soaked clear through and our thighs stung with the cold.
So, this week, I pledged to combat my winter couch potato ways (and similar inclinations in Little Goose), by venturing out into the teen temperatures. I dug out Dear Hubby’s old ski pants and bundled up Goosie and me. After school, we met Bear at the bus stop, which is fortuitously located at the corner of the neighborhood pond. The three of us rolled down hills until we were dizzy, made snow angels until our arms were limp, hunted for animal tracks, exploded cattail pods into the winter sky like frosty firecrackers, and slid on our bellies like sleek otters – all in the fading light of a winter’s day. After two afternoons of such frolicking, Bear declared, “Mommy, we need to do this every day!” Yes baby we do.