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First Snow | Nostalgic Memories of the Past


As with many Octobers here, we’ve already seen snow. Twice. In between those snows, we’ve hit 80 degrees.

Such is the weather in Colorado.

But when I think of first snows, I tend to think of the snow that ushers in winter—that first snow that comes along sometime in mid to late November when the trees are bare and the grass is brown. (Okay, yes, I realize winter doesn’t officially start until December 21, but to me, winter starts in November.)

And when I think of that first winter snow, I’m transported back in time, back to the excitement I felt as a little kid, sitting next to the big picture window in our living room, watching the flakes tumble in slow motion to the ground. It always made me want to listen to this song

That first snow—and that song—also always made me eager for an adventure, so my older brother and I would don winter jackets, not-so-waterproof mittens, and itchy wool hats. We’d pull on our Moon Boots and make our way out the door to our backyard tundra. We made first tracks, created snow angels, wrestled around, and put slush down the other’s back. And in those years when the snow was heavy and actually accumulated, we engaged in fierce snowball fights and built snowmen.

We would stay outside in the cold and wind (that frigid Wyoming wind) all day, as would all the other neighborhood kids, only taking a break for a quick lunch of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup or Spaghetti-O’s. Then back out until coats and mittens and hats and feet were soaked and frozen (oh, those days before Gore-Tex became popular), and it was time for hot chocolate with marshmallows.

Lots and lots and lots of marshmallows.

* * *

Fast forward about 15 years to the first time I heard this poem:

Oh, the snow, the beautiful snow,
Filling the sky and earth below,
Over the housetops, over the street,
Over the heads of people you meet;
Dancing — Flirting — Skimming along
Beautiful snow! It can do no wrong;


Oh! the snow, the beautiful snow,
How the flakes gather and laugh as they go
Whirling about in maddening fun;
Chasing — Laughing — Hurrying by,
It lights on the face and it sparkles the eye;
And the dogs with a bark and a bound
Snap at the crystals as they eddy around;
The town is alive, and its heart is aglow,
To welcome the coming of beautiful snow!

I heard it, of course, on the First Snow episode of what I consider to be one of the best shows ever to be on television: Northern Exposure.  That show’s philosophical KBHR radio disc jockey, Chris Stevens—played by the ever-cool John Corbett—read that poem at the end of that episode as the Cicely, Alaska villagers gathered to welcome the beautiful snow, and wish each other “bon hiver.”

Good winter.

With the coming of winter’s nostalgia-inducing first snow, I always think about that poem and all the other wonderful characters from Northern Exposure—Fleischman, Maggie, Maurice, Holling, Shelly, Ed, Ruth-Anne, Marilyn—whose adult lives in northern Alaska seemed simple and pure, funny, and loving.

Simple and pure; kind of like how my life was as a kid watching fluffy snowflakes fall, eating Spaghetti-O’s, and wearing Moon Boots.

And that gets me thinking: How can we get back to simple and pure when so many things in our adult lives seem so complicated?  So… adulterated?  When falling snow no longer means fun and adventure, but rather dangerous icy roads and bitter cold? When all you want to do for the winter is run away to a Mexican beach resort?

My recommendation? Take a moment to remember how you felt when you were young and you saw those first few flakes fall from the low gray winter sky. Then pull on your Moon Boots, and ask your kids to stop playing their video games to come out to play with you.

Build a snowman. Throw a snowball. Catch snowflakes on your tongue. Drink hot chocolate.

Whenever the flakes fall, gather with friends and family to welcome the beautiful snow.

And wish them all bon hiver.

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27 thoughts on “First Snow | Nostalgic Memories of the Past

  1. We used to spend hours and hours playing outside in th snow as well. Now that we’ve moved to a warmer state, I hear that ice is what will come every now and then instead of snow. So I guess that means we will be “ice skating” in the backyard.

  2. What a beautiful dedication to snow! Makes me want snow now because I do remember as kid having the feeling of the first snow its really magical! I didnt saw my first snow until I was 5 years old when we moved to Sweden!

  3. I have such fond memories of spending the day in the snow but now as an adult, I definitely don’t appreciate it or even like it anymore. After reading your post, I think I’ll look at it differently…

  4. My town in West Virginia hasn’t seen any snow yet but I’m sure it will be here before I know it. I like going out and playing in the snow, but driving in it scares the crap out of me. I usually do take one day off when my boys have a snow day from school and enjoy the day with them out sleigh riding and tubing. You only live once and the kids grow up way too fast, so enjoy it while you can! ♥

  5. I needed to read this today! It’s snowing here for the first time this year and I wasn’t super happy about it at first, but I need to look at it the way that you do. It is magical too and there is just something about it. I’m going to view it with fresh eyes now. Thank you.

  6. The first snow always gets me feeling like a kid again. I live in Canada and fully uunderstand lots of snow:) I still love shovelling snow, and bundling up with a hot drink outside. So many happy memories related to snow days too. We haven’t had any yet this year but the air is crisp now so I know it will appear before long.

  7. Today we are getting our first snow of the season. It’s the wet, melt on contact kind – still very pretty when I look out the windows. First snows bring back memories of playing outside until we couldn’t stand it anymore then clean socks fresh out of the dryer, hot cocoa with buttered toast as a treat, and vaseline on chapped lips. 🙂

  8. That is such a great song! I’m not ready for snow yet, but our temps are starting to dip into the 30’s. It’s hard to believe the holidays are coming.

  9. Ahhhh, I can’t WAIT for the snow to get here. Mind you, this is only my second year that I will be experiencing snowfall as we just moved to TN in June of last year! But, I think that’s why I still feel so child-like about it. Because this is all a new experience for me!

  10. I used to get SO EXCITED for snow when I was younger. I grew up in Minnesota, so winter definitely began in November for us, too. I can remember looking out my window in the morning when I was VERY young, and feeling elated at the site of *frost* on the ground. At four or five, it was almost like snow 🙂

  11. I’ve been getting really nostalgic since becoming a mom. It’s crazy how life changes! I wish it snowed in Houston. It seems so peaceful… <3

  12. We don’t see snow in Houston that often, but every winter and holiday season, the nostalgia hits hard. I love the holiday season and the hustle and bustle and cheer of everyone!!

  13. I have to say I do love snow but unfortunately we don’t get as much as I would like here in the UK. I grew up in South Africa where unless you are on very high ground doesn’t happen very often hence why I love it some much since living in the UK

    Laura x

  14. I didn’t grow up with snow but I’m glad my kids are. For me, snow still has that simple and pure feeling because it’s still so new. I love watching it fall still!

  15. We’ve finally gotten back to normal seasonal temps here and I know the first snowfall is right around by the corner. And for the first time in a looooong Time, im actually looking forward to it! Now that there’s kiddos who want to go play, it makes it a bit more bearable.

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