A Half-Bubble Off Plumb
Reawakening my inner, snow-loving child
Randal B. Thatcher
Leaving my native state of Utah some 30 years ago, I felt glad to be also leaving behind the condemnable snows of a Utah winter—swapping all that troublesome white stuff for the less hassle-inducing rains of a Seattle winter. “And good riddance,” thought I, while happily giving away snow shovel, tire chains, and ice-scraper, along with snow boots, winter gloves and parka. Goodbye—for the most part—to snow.
But now, 30 years later, back in Utah, I have felt positively giddy at the prospect of that first big snow storm of the season; like the little kid who’s disappointed when the forecasted six inches turns out to be only three. I was surprised at my palpable excitement, that first year back, as I wheeled my cart through the local sporting goods store, picking out new snow boots, gloves and parka, even tossing in a pair of snow-shoes and ice-cleats, for good measure.
Yes, I have recently grumbled while scraping stubborn ice from a thickly frosted windshield; and true, my car has become exasperatingly stuck in a drift more than once since returning to snow country; and admittedly, I bristle every autumn at the thought of those pesky precautionary chores to guard against frozen pipes.
But, on the other hand, hadn’t I missed engaging in a friendly snowball fight? Or sledding down a nearby slope with a group of laughing, red-cheeked neighbor kids? Or a silent, solitary romp through a frosted forest that turns transcendentally dreamlike in its beauty?
It’s a trade-off, like most things in life, but I find, now, that I can sanguinely endure those occasional aggravations of a Utah winter, in order to also claim those gamesome opportunities to ice-skate merrily upon a neighbor’s frozen pond; or go track-skiing around the 3-mile course that that same neighbor grooms around the perimeter of his property with a snowmobile, or even to just listen to that satisfying crunch of snow under my boots during a wintery walk to the post-office. Who knows? I might even be persuaded to venture up the canyon with a local Boy Scout troop and dig myself a snow cave in which to spend (endure?) an entire night!
And here, in snow country, which of us doesn’t smile knowingly whenever we hear that familiar lyric from a popular Christmas carol, juxtaposing the weather outside being “frightful,” with the fire inside being so “delightful”? Is there anything in the world cozier than curling up by one’s own hearth-fire, while outside, the temperatures plummet, and the snow swirls?
Throughout the autumn, I’ve watched neighboring stores of firewood grow around my town (even helped to grow a couple of them myself), in preparation for keeping those “delightful” fires crackling throughout the coming “frightful” winter. I have a goodly store of firewood myself and look hopefully forward to the pleasant necessity of burning much of it this winter.
The pragmatic adult in me is hoping for plenty of snowpack in the surrounding mountains this winter, to amply fill our reservoirs for watering the crops of next spring and summer. But the exuberant child in me wishes fervently for mounds and piles of snow in the valley too, just to romp about and play in.
After all, I had thought I was done with snow and lived mostly without it for nearly 30 years. But now, being gleefully back in Utah’s snow country, my inner child has a lot of catching up to do!