Joys of Winter

Dear Nephew Ray,

When we woke this morning it was here. The brilliant hushed world outside our window glistened like a frosted Christmas card. A small white mound on the windowsill confirmed beyond a doubt that the night had been full of SNOW.

Coffee and oatmeal smell and taste better when the kitchen window frames a winter scene. We got out the stovetop toaster to celebrate. Bread toasted dry and crisp over the open fire has a different flavor than the pop-up kind.

Bright yellow busses full of wriggling children,eager to view changes in the passing landscape effected by the snow, made their way down the road past our house. Lighter cars slewed gracefully in the sand-brown snow-pudding covering the highways. Walkers scuffed and stomped over unshoveled walks. Some detoured around shoveled stretches to scuff and stomp on snowy lawns.

A tall father hand in hand with a small daughter sang gaily: "Oh, what a snowyful morning" as they trudged to school, he to teach and she to learn. What a lovely way for a little girl to begin the day.

King, the neighbors golden lab, roaming his doggy domain, brushed under snow-laden evergreens, giving himself a very cold shower. He thrust his muzzle into the fluffy white stuff and raised a nose heaping with snow. He looked as though he had been sampling cake frosting when he came to accept his morning donut at our side door.

Martha was accompanied to the front porch milkbox by Thomas Cat. He stopped at the threshold and gazed suspiciously at the changed world outside. One paw gingerly tested the snow dusted porch floor resulting in vigorous rejection of the idea of an outdoor excursion. Had Martha not gently toed him out, he would have retreated to his basket beside the radiator for the day. In a moment we saw him gallop, tail held high, across the lawn and disappear into his favorite hunting thicket.

After breakfast Josiah went out to fill the bird feeder. As I watched, a stirring in the hickory tree caught my attention. Untroubled by wind the branches whipped, sending snow plopping to the shed roof followed by a sprightly young gray squirrel. Whisking his bushy tail nervously, bright black eyes intent, he watch Jos fill the tray with sunflower seeds and bits of dry bread.


When Josiah had come back inside, the squirrel dashed across the lawn and up the feeder pole. On the tray he found a morsel to his liking and carried it off after the first taste. As his tiny hands and feet plowed through the snow I thought how cold they must be and amused myself by imagining Master Squirrel wearing red mittens, tiny buckle arctics, and a flowing stocking cap.

Once the furry guest had left, the feathered ones arrived. Soon the ground was littered with seed hulls and two blue jays were fighting noisely over some bits of bread. In a firey streak, our friends the cardinals arrived a bit late for breakfast but still in time for a second cup of coffee.

10)Gradually they all retired to the thicket whose red canes laden with bright red berries made a lovely picture against the snow. However Thomas Cat chose this time to return home and his approach shoo'd the whole flock into the air and away to the office, shopping, or whatever affairs they had to attend to that day.

As the sun rose higher, small closely wrapped bundles began moving about the neighborhood. Pre-schoolers dressed like Eskimos crossed and recrossed their tracks, busily patterning the snow with Munchkin-size footprints. One young man attempted to ride his tricycle. Long and hard he strove but snow caked on the tires and, not being snow treads, they skidded around and around or slipped backward. Finally he climbed off and stood looking the situation over. Then with a disgusted shrug, he trotted off, on foot, to investigate an icicle encrusted bush nearby.

Icicles are considered a delicacy by most children and are condemned as "dirty" by all adults. Snapped off in a mittened hand and crunched between fast freezing teeth, the icicle vies favorably with commercial popsicles. Thirst, or curiosity, can be quenched by snowflakes caught on an out-stretched tongue. They have the zest of a single bubble of gingerale tingling on the palate. However, too much of this experimantation with nature's frozen confections will be brought to a stop by a sharp thimble rap on any over-looking window from a conscientious adult.

When my children were small we always made snow candy or wax to celebrate the first good snowfall. Boiling maple syrup is poured over pans of clean snow, whereupon it congeals into a sweet, chewy substance. Teeth stick together, sugary juices dribble from laughing lips and tacky fingers result from this feast.

Snowmen will spring up in the late afternoon, leaning tipsily or standing proudly firm, depending on the age and ability of their creators. Few children can find coal for faces any more but most make do nicely with dabs of paint. stones, bits of wood, or vegetables. Older folks enjoy snowmen, too, though they may attempt more complicated structures. Joshua and I always try to get around to see the snow sculptures at the college campus during their winter carnival.

Snow no longer tempts your Aunt Katy to build snowmen or crunch icicles. Instead, I'll probably hint all day for a fire in the fireplace and hot buttered popcorn and cocoa for supper. Come join us if you can.

Uncle Jos sends regards as do I,
Your Aunt Katy