Ok, so we had weather earlier this weekend that allowed the sun to shine and finally break down the hard, cold white a bit. Just enough to get its thaw on, to create nice drips off of the eaves, to allow some of the road to show, to create a little mud, to even soak your clothes when you’re out in it…
…making a snowman.
Now I know you are not the kind of people to judge a grown woman who choses to use her precious free time walking out in the hills on a windy day while thinking to herself: “perfect consistency…and I have just the right outfit” only to plop down on a whim and begin the age-old ritual of turning and churning and transforming the sticky drifts of white that really are starting to get on your nerves into something a little cuter.
A little more bearable.
Because it was coming to the end of a month that is historically tough on most North Dakotans (at least those who have to start a car or bundle up to go outside at any point in the course of 31 days) and I was starting to feel house bound, cold, melancholy and pasty white. I needed this thaw to defrost my mood.
And I needed to make a snowman dammit.
So when the blue skies opened up, like they often do on winter days in ND, and brought with it the sun and temperatures in the low 30s, you couldn’t keep me inside if you put bolts on the doors.
Because I would have crawled out the damn windows or up the chimney or taken the roof off if I had to.
I needed to be in the warm sun, no matter the howling wind.
Well, nobody locked me in the house or sealed the windows up. In fact, no one was even around the place on Friday afternoon to witness this little childish endeavor. And that’s ok. I didn’t need spectators or a partner in crime to help me achieve a January level of bliss. I just needed the perfect spot, my mittens, and all of that snow.
So I stepped out into the glistening bright world, strapped on my snowshoes, and marched for the hills, sinking in heavy white, trudging and puffing and sweating my way to the perfect spot…
…where I plopped.
I plopped down on my hands and knees and gathered up the sticky, wet, previously untouched snow as the wind whipped through my neckerchief and turned my cheeks the brightest shade of red. I gathered and rolled and patted and fluffed and shaped each ball together, imagining all of the snowmen of my youth. Remembering how we used to roll the snowballs until they grew so large we couldn’t possibly move them another inch. And then we started all over again with the second, enlisting help from the bigger, stronger, boys on the playground or our dads or big brothers to hoist the second snowball up, and then the third.
I smiled as I remembered how we would raid our parent’s coat closest for the perfect scarf, the wool cap, the gloves we would hang on the end of the sticks we managed to dig out of the snow for Frosty’s arms.
We would track snow through the kitchen and stick our rosy faces into the refrigerator looking for a carrot, because the man must have a carrot nose.
And what about the eyes? Rocks if it the snow melted enough to find them. Or coal if we knew where that was hidden.
Buttons on his chest? Maybe grandpa’s vest or dad’s old feed jacket.
And sometimes the man made out of snow would have a smile. Sometimes we would make a U-shaped trail under his nose with a piece of licorice or rocks or the appropriate ingredient found in the fridge.
But if the smile could not literally be made, if we could not find the proper ingredient, it didn’t matter.
Because by the time that snowman was all put together into a huge, towering man in a great outfit he was sure to sit in front yards, on playgrounds and on hilltops for months to come, slowly shrinking out of his clothes and his nose while bringing smiles of pride to the faces of the kids who made him and those who happened to walk or drive on by.
We all got the point.
Snowmen make you happy.
And it turns out they still do. Even when you are a bit older and a bit more affected by the stress of the weather and the pressure of a life that must go on despite the cold.
Even when they are put together by a woman determined not to lose her spirit again.
Even when they are out of site for the rest of the world.
Even if they look exactly like you.
Winter love and warmth from the ranch this week.