Despite living in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. for a combined eleven years and three storms of the century, I have never loved snow or even liked it. It’s cold, wet, turns to muck, requires sleeping bags for jackets along with layered wool socks (and I find wool itchy), and looks nothing like the beach. Even the few fun ski trips to the San Bernardino Mountains I enjoyed as a kid couldn’t convince me of its worth, so it’s no wonder my idea of a winter wonderland is neatly contained within a snow globe where artificial flakes swirl around the Hallmark scene captured inside.
Then my son learned about the Arctic at preschool. Polar bears, penguins, and, oh yeah, that white stuff to be exact. And just like that (or like that ol’ globe), my life of resisting snow was shaken, mixed up, and turned upside down. Next stop Big Bear.
At first touch, he didn’t like it. But I knew better and didn’t intervene as he continued to explore the icy mounds with his hands. Once he discovered that the flakes could be brushed from his mittens, he was smitten (rhyme intended). He took to throwing snowballs to our friend’s dog, riding a sled, and stomping through the drifts.
On day two, however, the novelty had sadly worn off for the little guy. The sun didn’t shine. The thermometer registered a blustery 32 degrees. And he was more interested in pushing his cars over the kitchen floor than pulling on his boots to hike the trail leading up from Big Bear Lake. To be expected from my child, for sure.
Were this anyone else’s attitude, I would have easily and without hesitation resigned myself to a day spent lending my voice to beeps, screeches, vrooms, and purrs and cuddling in the cabin. But strangely, I was rooting for the snow. I wanted my son to give it a fair chance and really experience the season for more than a few hours before he threw in the towel and called it a day.
Not surprisingly when we found ourselves bundled and ready to walk along the snow covered paths of the national forest, my son whined and asked for me to carry him. I offered him my hand instead. He refused it and whined some more. The group trudged ahead. He didn’t. I walked back, crouched down to his level, and whispered that I didn’t like snow (shoot, I wasn’t going to influence him was I?), I knew he was cold and it could take a lot of energy to move forward, but I believed he could do it.
You’ll be so proud of yourself if you make it to the top of the trail. Let’s try it together.
His foot moved a little bit and then some more.
And we can collect pinecones along the way.
He took my hand and we walked. As we gained momentum, he broke free and hiked ahead of me—focused, determined, and quickly forgetting his complaints as he charged toward the bench where our party rested. Once he reached “summit,” he could not be stopped. He climbed up and down, in and out of snow banks, playing, finding sticks, tossing them to the dog, and going back for more. I, on the other hand, stood still. I watched, I breathed in, I remembered, I had fun too.
When we arrived home in Los Angeles the following day, my son longingly called for a return to the snow. He learned to the love it. And, for the first time, so did I.
~ The Other Sarah
This post was originally published on Moonfrye.