When my brother Dan and I were youngsters we always “saved” a bit of the wintry snowy yard from tracks. It was our “looking at” snow. Not sure why we felt the need to save a portion just for ourselves to admire, but we did. Where we spent our growing up years the yard was large, with plenty of room for the four of us — and then when our younger sister came along the autumn I turned seven, the five of us — to roam and play. But no matter how many snowmen were built ... no matter how many games of fox and goose were played ... no matter how many forts built and snowballs flung ... no matter how many snow angels dotted the landscape ... a portion (usually to the southwest, furthest from the house) was left to sparkle in the winter sun. None of the sibs traversed there like it was some unspoken pact amongst all of us, which it most probably was. Kid philosophy is an interesting concept.
Fast forward to the present and its nigh impossible to “save” any of the snow in our yard today. Creatures are plentiful here thus there are squirrel tracks, rabbit tracks, turkey tracks, deer tracks and the tiny type left by moles, voles, etc., all over the snowy expanse. And there’s a trail or two depending on where we decide to go off snowshoeing (the latest path was only down to the satellite dish to clear it of snow). Our kids are grown with kids of their own so not as much play goes on here as once did. But there are a couple grandkids who visit regularly.
The day before Christmas Eve found the four of us spending a good span of time simply frolicking in the snow. Snow was powdery that day so not much snow fort or snowman building action could take place. But it was deep enough to make walking difficult and running a workout (whew!), but also cushiony enough to make snow angels comfortably and play other wintry snow games. Human tracks of two adults and two kiddos blended in with the rabbit and turkey variety which are now fully mixed. We spotted a woodpecker on the suet bag and a black squirrel doing his high wire act among the maple trees. A few chickadees were about, and the ever-present crows. Rosy-cheeked and happy we came in for supper and indoor pursuits. The kids introduced us to “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” which we grandparents had never seen in its entirety. Is it wrong to laugh over a cat fried into the carpet? Anyway, we laughed a lot during the entire thing. And capped off the night with several games of BINGO.
Thanks to some overnight rain/mist, the Christmas Day snow was far superior to the Christmas Eve day snow in its packiness. The adult males have a far better snowball launching arm than the adult females or children, but since everyone was clad in snow gear we could all take cover behind any available snowbank or tree. My aim is suspect at the best of times but I managed a few hits. To say they were well-placed would be a lie or an exaggeration, but it was fun. My younger sister and her family arrived to interrupt playtime for more visiting and (of course) more food.
After everyone had gone home and I’d put the house to rights I flicked on the back yard light that overlooks the deck. Not even sure why I did that, some inner compulsion? Maybe. But what to my wondering eyes should appear? Not a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer but a glistening expanse, unmarred by any creature, human or otherwise. That’s what brought to mind the muse for this column — the young Dan and the young Karen, sitting in the snow admiring the twinkle and glisten of sunlight off untouched snow crystals. Much of our yard is quite happily marred by tracks of human and animal, but I can’t help but be pleased with an expanse of “looking at” snow here in my little korner of the world. Maybe there are some things we just never outgrow taking simple joy in.