You’re gonna hate me when I tell you this. It’s not a popular point of view, I realize. But here goes: I don’t hate the snow.
“I wish I knew who to be angry at, because have no doubt, I’m really flipping full of rage right now,” read a friend of a friend’s Facebook comment recently, in response to a post about another looming storm.
“Are you in the snow zone?” asked a headline on Boston.com. The text below it: “Most of New England will be getting rain today, but an unfortunate few will get another dash of snow, writes meteorologist David Epstein.”
Unfortunate? I furiously checked the map, crossing my fingers in the hopes that I’d be in the “snow zone.” I had to stifle a girlish “wheeee!” when only minutes after reading the story, the snow began to fall outside my window. On Thursday, we’re likely to get more.
“I’m just getting so sick of this,” a friend lamented the other day. Each time this happens — each time someone complains about how terrible this winter has been — I am forced to silently nod and agree. But it’s a lie. It’s all a lie. When someone mentions there’s yet another storm coming, a perceptible tone of disgust in their voice, I’m muffling little-girl giggles because I’m just so excited.
“IT’S SNOWING!!!!” is what my internal monologue sounds like. If I were a cartoon, I’d have little glittery snowflakes swirling around my head.
There must be other people like me out there, hiding their true feelings so they don’t appear to be “that freak who likes snow.”
I live on the top floor of a triple decker in Somerville, sending a check off monthly to a landlord who can never seem to clear the snow off of our 18 front steps. “Aren’t we paying him to do this?” my roommate frequently asks. I agree, but silently I’m joyous. “I’ll shovel it off,” I say, all serious-like. I suit up in my trusty boots, worn-in waterproof pants, and knit cap with a little pom-pom on top.
Somewhere on the way to adulthood, we’ve forgotten how wonderful the snow is. We don’t play in it anymore. Instead, we push it around, scrape it off, shovel it up, and send it away.
Snow is a blank slate. As kids, we could turn it into a fort, a giant portly man, a tunnel. We would write it in, slide around on it, track our footprints and trace our little bodies. Snow was an excuse to be creative, to use our imagination, and to work together to build something. When you wanted to build a fort, and Johnny from down the street thought it should be more of an igloo than a castle, it taught us how to compromise and problem-solve.
I’m not new to the area, so it’s not like snow is anything exciting and different. But perhaps it’s the way I was raised. My parents both love the snow. During snowy winters they’d wake up my brother and me to tell us we were skipping school to go skiing. My mother always wished for snow days, letting us stay up late to watch the news, the three of us, rapt, eyes glued to that scrolling ticker of names flying by. Gardner. Grafton. Halifax. We’d hold our collective breath. “Hanover!” we’d yell, when our town flashed across the screen. “Wahoo!” mom would say. “Let’s go sledding!”
While shoveling the sidewalk after a recent storm, I looked up and down the street at the other neighbors engaged in the same ritual. Scrape lift dump. Scrape lift dump. This was work. Just another thing we have to do. I found myself piling the snow in a mound on the sidewalk. Bigger and bigger. How high could I make it?
I stacked it between the telephone pole and a fence, a wall of snow up to my chest. I packed it in. I built it up. And then I carved out a tunnel. Commuters coming home looked over and chuckled. “It’s a fort!” I’d call out, like a little kid who just couldn’t contain her excitement. I kept wishing someone would join in. That the neighbors would see what I was doing, throw down their shovels, and rush over.
“Oh cool, a fort!” they’d say. “Can I play?”
Before long we’d have the biggest igloo on the block, with a little snowman family to match. We’d stage a snowball fight in the street and slide down the hill behind my house. Later, when our moms told us it was getting too dark, we’d all go inside to dry out our socks and eat soup.
But instead, we just kept shoveling.