I have many happy snow memories from my childhood in South Dakota, so when it snows in Texas, I feel a little giddy. Snow here is usually accompanied by ice, and the whole event lasts less than a week – until the historic winter storm of 2021, that is! So, this time when a winter storm entered the forecast, we all got a little jittery. Art went out and bought a small, portable power station in case we lost power. Ice was the main threat to electricity, they said, insisting that the state’s power grid was reinforced and ready. Thankfully, the electricity and other utilities stayed on throughout the storm and the hard freeze that followed. Today the melting began as sun returned and the temperature reached 43 degrees.
Since South Dakota was well-equipped to handle snowy winters, it would take a blizzard to close schools and businesses. I can remember those snow days! We had to stay inside because of frigid cold and wind. My mother would say, “When the temperature gets above zero, you can go out and play.” As soon as it did, she was as ready to let us out as we were to plunge into the snowbanks. The bundling up took 20 minutes, followed by about 30 minutes outside in the bitter cold. That was as long as we lasted before bouncing back in through the kitchen door like roly-polys, covered in snow, and peeling off the layers of outerwear. Next came a round of hot chocolate with marshmallows to warm us up.
Snowfall in South Dakota was measured in feet, not inches. We had enough to build snowmen and forts, have snowball fights, and go sledding. As soon as we were old enough to shovel, we all helped with that rigorous task. You see, our house was on a hill with a garage on the basement level, under the house. The driveway was bordered by concrete retaining walls where snow would drift, blocking the garage. We had to shovel snow drifts taller than us in order the get the car out. That was when the fun of snow began to transition to the work of snow.
Nonetheless, snow days taught me some valuable lessons that help me to live well in every season.
1. Learn to accept and embrace the gray, quiet days. Find contentment in simple things and peace in your soul.
I learned to enjoy being inside for extended periods of time and keep myself occupied. I don’t remember ever getting bored. We always had plenty of books, puzzles, games, and Barbies. When we have a snow day here, I can be happily occupied for hours without television or electronic devices. I learned early. For me, a snow day is a license to relax and play.
2. When going through a harsh season, go within and dig into the adversity. Gather your resources and your people for nourishment, comfort, and strength.
Another lesson I learned about snow has been reinforced on the nature programs I watch. When you build a snow fort or burrow down into a snowbank, the snow provides shelter from the cold. Many animals that survive harsh winters stay warm by burrowing down into the snow and carving out a shelter. They are creative and resourceful in finding food, and those that live in groups huddle together for warmth.
3. Bake, cook, make hot cocoa, and savor it all.
Finally, the kitchen is the heart of the home. There you can bring warmth and comfort to cold, snowy days by stirring up something yummy and hot. This, too, is a form of play and soul salsa.
Whatever this season brings your way, stay warm and wise from head to toe. Refuse to complain about that which nature delivers; instead, stir up something fun and fulfilling. Remember that it is a season; it will pass. What you do with it is up to you. Be willing to dig deeper and carve out a space for peace and joy.
Smiles & Snowflakes,
Elisa J. Juarez