The Joy of the First Snow

Today, or rather last night, brought the first snow of the new year. It’s always a celebratory day with a nine-year-old who still loves to frolic in the white stuff. Oh yes, she also has a middle name of “Snow” (my maiden name) so there’s probably some connection there.

And, it’s Saturday and the snow and ice cancelled all school functions today — sports as well as the sports picture day. So, with lots of newfound free time and one of her best friends, we relished the rituals of putting on and taking off of winter outdoor gear, making hot chocolate, and exploring the outdoors when it looks so new and white.

Who knew until today that we had a restaurant in the woods in the backyard named “Snowball Cafe?” After its proprietors readied the place for well over an hour, it served me tacos (magnolia leaves folded over and stuffed with evergreen lettuce and other white ingredients), sushi (green leaves that look like seaweed, stuffed with white rice (i.e. snow), and icy smoothies made with — yes, snow — and red Gatorade. All these gourmet treats were served to me at “The Grand Table” — the smooth, large stump leftover from when my favorite, oldest tree in the yard died and had to be cut down. It’s savoring its new life at the center of “Snowball Cafe” even though the dog jumped up and unceremoniously sat down in the middle of my meal. It reminded me of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree and I could have stayed seated there (on the stacks of leftover patio pavers they used to make three seats) for a very long time.

I thanked the Lord for the simple pleasure of sitting in the woods in the snow. I thanked Him for a precious, long-awaited daughter and her sweet, imaginative friend. And I thanked Him for the time and space to take it all in — the cold mist on my face, the amazing quality of children’s imaginations, the warm home to come back into, and the presence of a peace that passes all understanding.

Blessings and kind regards to you all.

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Frozen Ground

Winter has finally arrived in Northern Virginia. Today’s low of 19 and high of 32 promises snow if there’s any precipitation.

Even if there’s no snow, there is frozen ground, ice in little puddles, and that strange crystallization of earth that was swampy yesterday and today crunches like tiny ice cliffs in a Lilliputian landscape. My morning walk with our dog — on a different woodsy path– was possible today because of frozen ground. Some of this path is too swampy and muddy until it’s this frigid. Then we can boldly go where clean boots dare to tread because nothing sticks to us.

Hmm, I like it when certain things don’t stick to me. So my mind swirls with the wind into the possibilities of the good and bad of frozen ground. It’s easier to walk on that solid hard surface, just like it’s easier to move into new personal paths when I can freeze out the mud. You know that stuff; it’s what clings to boots, makes messy tracks, and generally slows down thoughts, words, actions and emotions from staying on the straight direct route.

The frozen air makes it easier to hear and focus on a few clear simple sounds — a pileated woodpecker, one airplane far above, the sound of my dog’s jewelry (dog tags, I mean) jiggling as she heads up and down the hills. That clear, one-thing-at-a-time focus always makes things easier.

But the frozen ground can, of course, remind me what happens when there’s no warmth. When I keep people — even those I deeply love — at arm’s length. Frozen ground might be helpful for traversing miles but it doesn’t help the flowering of emotion and intimacy and the kind of depth in relationships that comes with the sensuousness and messiness of mud.

It’s been a good walk over ground I haven’t seen for about a year. It’s time to get home for Bible reading, prayer time, and charging into my to-do list. I find a reference to the frozen ground in Job 38:29-31 (NKJV). I’ll reflect on this today and tomorrow as I think of His wondrousness. From whose womb comes the ice? And the frost of heaven, who gives it birth? The waters harden like stone, And the surface of the deep is frozen.”Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, Or loose the belt of Orion?”

Blessings and kind regards to you all.