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.”
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.
At The Nostalgia Diaries, our goal is to help you simplify, enhance, and engage your lives by focusing on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming. It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.