The house felt warm and cozy. Not a glimmer of light from outside marred the bathroom’s black windowpane. It wasn’t the middle of night, though. Only half an hour before, the annoying, buzzing insistence of my alarm clock persuaded me to leave my warm bed. Unable to put off leaving for work, I checked my reflection in the mirror above the sink one last time, and turned out the light.
Refusing to use a light, I turned and carefully made my way down the obsidian hallway toward the stairs. A small glimmer from the nightlight in Tammie’s bedroom prompted me to peek in at my youngest child. Her ruffled dark hair showed up clearly against the pillow.
Floating down the stairs like a bodiless ghost, I thought about Tammie, my little night owl. It was good to see her so quiet and peaceful, deeply sleeping her way through the shirttails of my night. Having my daughter home for Christmas was a blessing, but in two weeks she would be returning to college for her second semester.
At the bottom step I stopped and looked out of the window. New fallen snow lay three inches deep on the back deck, and a thick curtain of heavy, wet flakes continued to fall from a dark sky. Leaning close to the window I sighed, “Oh-oh. I don’t think driving to town will be much fun this morning.” A foggy spot appeared on the glass near my mouth.
In the living room I flipped on a light switch, and our Christmas tree sparkled to life in five glorious hues. Peeking behind a drape at our window thermometer, I saw that it was only 30 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Surprised by our uncharacteristically warm January weather I commented wonderingly, “Snowman weather!”
Snow continued to fall even with the coming of daylight. Very little sun penetrated the heavy clouds overhead, making the black, wet, streets around the hospital, as well as the mist-shrouded farm fields in the distance look gloomy. The patient rooms that did not have lights turned on, looked like cold, gray, fire-less caves.
My work hours quickly blurred past, as I became preoccupied with fulfilling what seemed like a thousand individual needs and wants. When it was time to go home, I walked to the parking lot through the slushy snow, wondering if Tammie was too old to be interested in making a snowman.
I popped my question the minute I got home. A big grin spread across Tammie’s face. Getting up from where she sat reading a book, my eighteen-year-old exclaimed, “Making a snow man sounds like fun, Mom!” We tugged on heavy pants, boots, mittens and scarves before trouping out into our damp, dreary back yard. Our playground was filled with birch tree branches, black with moisture, and pine trees that looked like tall piles of wet, olive-green duffel bags.
Making a snowball, I leaned over and rolled it down the driveway. Every snow crystal that it touched, became a part of the large, lumpy mass. Rolling it off the driveway, I told Tammie, “We’ll make him stand on the lawn beyond the birch tree.” My daughter just nodded, she was busy trying to get the snowman’s belly started.
Each turn of the snow boulder became harder for me to manage. Finally reaching the trunk of the birch tree, I panted, “Tammie, can’t…can’t go much farther.”
My daughter breezily encouraged, “You’re doing great, Mom!”
I turned to look at her. Did I sound like that when I encouraged HER? Unconnected, unconcerned cheerleading REALLY is annoying! Another three struggling, rumbling rollovers with my snow mountain, and that was all the farther I could make it go. Leaning against the planet-sized orb I gasped, “Tammie…this is where…our snow beastie…is going to have to stand.”
Somewhere along the line our snowman evolved into an extremely ample woman wearing a full skirt that barely covered huge, forklift sized feet. She faced the road, with hands resting belligerently on full hips. A birch switch that she clutched in her right hand completed the tableau. I stepped back from her and commented to Tammie, “I feel sorry for whoever she’s waiting for…they’re in a heap of trouble!”
The next quarter hour we spent taking pictures of each other with our mean snow mama, and catching falling snowflakes on our tongues. “That last one tasted like strawberry…this one was blueberry!” I exclaimed with a laugh. My ruse might have worked ten years earlier. Tammie just shook her head and thrust her tongue out further to catch another crystal.
The sky started to darken into early nightfall shortly after we returned to the house. I looked out my kitchen window while preparing supper. Our stern snow lady stood tall and menacing in the twilight. Cardinals feeding in the tree next to her made small splashes of color in an otherwise black and white scene. I smiled. It had been a good day. Playing in the snow was fun.
Arnie came into the kitchen and asked, “How was your day?”
I gave him a big smile and quipped, “It was snow good!”