"Snow provokes responses that lead right back to childhood."
-Andy Goldsworthy, sculptor, photographer and environmentalist.
As I sit here in my studio today, writing to you, I gaze out the window at heavy snow falling in the surrounding fields and woodlands. We are in the midst of another "lake effect" event here in Chautauqua County, New York. As the snow drifts outside my window, my mind also drifts, back to a place when time seemed to stand still, and the wonder of winter took hold of my heart.
Every time we have a big snow, I am transported back to my childhood, hoping – fingers crossed – for a snow day. These vivid memories inspire me still, including inspiring my "Winter Dreams" photo series. So, I thought I would share some of these treasured moments with you.
The promise of a heavy overnight snowfall made sleeping out of the question. After being safely tucked into my cozy bed, I watched out my bedroom window, waiting to see the white flakes begin to flutter through the pale light of the streetlamp across the street. I hoped that when I woke in the morning – after finally giving in to my sleepy eyes – that our world would be transformed.
Morning brought an early alarm. If we were lucky, during the night the winds would have blown across Lake Erie, hitting the elevation of the Chautauqua Ridge rising from the shore – bringing not just inches, but sometimes feet of snow.
Hearing those long-awaited words were spoken on the local radio broadcast – "Schools are closed!" – I jumped out of bed – so much faster than on a school day. Let the snow day begin!
After breakfast, I would pull on my warmest snow gear and plunge out into the cold. Have you ever walked through fluffy snow that is past your knees, maybe waist high or higher, even? That first blast of cold on your face is invigorating. I felt like an intrepid arctic explorer on those mornings!
As I, my siblings and our friends made our way through the vast white landscape that was our connecting backyards, we had big plans for the day. I'd pick up a handful and press it into a snowball in my mitten clad hands, to see what kind of snow we had. Was it good packing snow? Ah, yes!
A snow day and good packing snow! Time for a snowball fight! The first one was probably launched at my brother or sister – with the greatest of love and respect, of course.
Every snowball fight requires a proper snow fort, right? The plows that cleared our neighborhood driveways always left an enormous bank of snow in front of our house. At least, it seemed enormous to this little kid! Time to dig and dig some more, until there was enough room to crawl in and feel like I was hiding from the rest of the world – and certainly from my brother's and sister's revenge snowballs!
By the time Mom called us in for lunch, my mittens were soaked, my hands were cold, my toes felt frozen, and my cheeks were a chilly rosy red. I couldn't have been happier – or hungrier! The cold snow and fresh air had given us quite an appetite!