Eventually I slipped out of Easter’s pink confectionery dress. But it left a desire imprinted within determination. And within that determination, its own, my own permission to desire to wear pink again. And to celebrate. It was Easter, after all.
As though pink Easter ink had bled through me, I really could not shake the haunting of the images of the day. I could not turn away from the sweetness nor would it allow me. A sticky mess, I was, of pink confectionery dreams, responsibilities, obligations, and creations. All of which makes no sense whatsoever.
Snowbanks still remain here in the woods, although the rains chip at them. Our first Wisconsin spring rains. The first warm ones, at least. The first waters which fall into puddles, polka-dotting rather than glazing every imaginable surface. No more ice.
No more ice.
But I wish to tell you a story of ice, of the last snows, back here in the woods. I would have thought that as I age, I might temper my enthusiasm for snow. I look forward to summer, but I also look forward to that magical time right after the Fourth of July, when we are sweating through that rare heat. As I watch fireworks, I always begin to dream about snow.
The Final Snow.
There had been weather warnings five days ahead of the snowstorm. Berry-colored stripes banded across weather maps, daring the inhabitants of Wisconsin counties to locate themselves among the predictions. Am I in the red band of most severe? Am I in the purple six to eight inches or the blue of ‘less than four’? On and on. We Wisconsinites are accustomed to the direst of storm predictions only to see minor blips of flakes. Such faux blizzards cause a rather charming bout of the tales of ‘snowstorms past’, when ‘blizzards were real’ and ‘people really knew how to drive in them.’
A little snow? Come on, please. I could have not cared less to which color band I belonged. I grew up with these seasons. I love snow!
But this storm – a storm of three storms – became its own experience of faith!
The Peeling of Winter’s Desires
Little white spots in the night, so subtly the snows crept in. No wind; only the stillness and steadiness of purposeful polka dots.
I had fallen asleep early to awaken in the darkest part of morning. Soft but determined polka dots were replaced by the whitest of dropping petals, the peelings of winter’s desires. Winter too was tired of holding back its powers. It had restrained itself until finally daring to show off. In spring’s fright, winter delighted and entranced. They had spun together, spring and winter. As I stared out the window, I realized the storm might be one last chance….I smiled at the thought.
I had adopted some quirky habits years ago, private little mini-celebrations. From the outside, I suppose the practices would seem odd. This year, as the winter progressed, I had thought maybe I was ‘growing out of the need or growing up’. But at three in the morning, with eight inches of fresh snow, I felt the familiar tug of those beloved traditions.
Who knows when the next time may be? Who knows if ever there will be a next time? I smiled at the tugging whisper within my soul, “remember why”.
I grabbed my coat and slipped on the biggest Kodiak-version boots (rated to -30F, mind you). Wally, my adventure dog, bounced happily by my side as we threw open the front door, ran down the steps, between the towering maple trees, then into the opening. The trees surround us, back in the woods, but the house, garage, shed, garden and just enough lawn form a pleasant homestead-like oasis among the trees. And there we were, my dog and I, at three in the morning, dancing in the storm, then running down the road, the lane, between the pines, poplars and maples.
Knees and snow petals
Years ago, I had discovered the joy of running in fresh snow. I had undergone the second of two knee surgeries. Years ago, my marriage was disintegrating and my knee was not healing. (The marriage is another story for another time). What made those years so critical was the torrent of difficulties. One part of that tempest was my fear I would never walk without pain or that my mobility had already been irreparably compromised.
My physical therapist was wonderful, but part of my own rehabilitation was dancing. I began to dance again. Ballet. And I began to walk. Years ago I had discovered I could dance in the snow among the trees. Not only could I dance for the trees and walk down the lane, but in the snow, I could run.
I did not have to be embarrassed. I did not have to worry about wearing the correct clothes or being impressive. I could just be me.
And my legs grew stronger.
Every year since I would find the time at least once a winter to grab either my furry winter coat or favorite old Pendleton woolen blanket. And Wally, my faithful adventurer Wally, and I would charge into the night. As I would reach the opening, I would turn my face toward the sky. The snow petals kissed my cheeks and my forehead. I would open my coat – or the blanket – to feel the bite of winter and more snow kisses upon my skin. And I would remember the first time I did, so many years ago, when I first felt the joy of being blessed. I ran without pain. And I danced with only the trees watching.
Who ever heard of Sunday fears?
The snow had stopped long enough on Saturday for plows and road crews to catch up. With a Jeep and my attitude (which normally I try to keep hidden – the attitude), I can attest to a dozen more inches of snow. Realistically I could have rammed the Jeep through, but I began to wonder why I would do such a thing. My son, although missing his weekend time home, was tucked in safely at his father’s house. My mother was warm and toasty in her home.
We had survived safely and with electricity; Two factors one should never take for granted in a snowstorm.
The snow beautified the woods in such sudden abundance like the deftness of a masterful performing painter. I felt like a spoiled child who receives every gift, every wish, every desire of her heart. As I shoveled the front walk – in appropriate outerwear this time – I began a prayer which has lasted in the weeks to follow. “Dear G~d,” I began with my eyes closed, feet buried in the foot of fresh snow. “I love snow.”
I had popped open my eyes to the masterpiece surrounding me. As if in return, in the ultimate retort to any question of faith G~d had replied “Oh yeah?”
Abundance. And I laughed. Of course the snow also meant more shoveling but it also meant a chance to face one more fear.
It wasn’t the Snowshoes.
I thought my Sunday fear was the pair of snowshoes. During my ‘years of fears’ with knees and whatnot, I had purchased multiple pairs of snowshoes for family members. There would be no reason they could not enjoy walking in the snow even if I could not. But that reasoning was years ago and years old. Passe. G~d had given me snow which I knew would now, in April, be short-lived. What if I don’t have another winter?
I will face the snowshoes. I will wear the snowshoes, I declared in a bit of an imbecilic fashion, even for me, among these trees. I had a bit of a self-check point. “Steph. Really. Go get the doggone snowshoes.”
In every garage there are storage spaces which seem like their own lost world. My garage attic space is no different. Wally and I strode into the middle of the garage. I pulled on the ladder’s rope, unfolding it out then down. It is a tidy ladder which nests nine feet above, between the roof rafters. As I placed my booted foot on the first rung, Wally decided his curiosity was better placed in the banks of white outside the door. As I climbed the ladder I could see him check, a pause between his laps around the garage.
As I reached the top of the ladder, my hands automatically reached to grab the upper support of the trussed rafters. I yelled to Wally, teasing him to look. I stood now on the rafters, straddling my stance. My eye caught the snowshoes.
My eye then caught the doorway light through the boards of the trussed rafters. Tears filled my eyes. I had been afraid.
There had been a time when I had been afraid to climb that ladder and never would have thought I could or would even stand…straddling the rafters.
I was no longer afraid.
Thank you. May you weave something beautiful from your joys..
and your fears.
Love. Lots of Love, and a kiss too.
The Brick Dandelion.