I grew up in the South but moved to New York in my twenties. It occurred to me recently that I have lived in the North for much longer than I did in the South. The one thing I’ve never adapted to is the cold weather.
When the winter moves in, I want to hibernate. I have the feeling that I will never get warm no matter what I do. That is, until spring arrives.
Finn, thankfully, got another gene. On the day of our recent snow, he spent half the day literally rolling in it, eating it, sledding, and throwing snow balls with his friends. Lucky for me, they picked a spot in the yard where I could watch them from the warm comfort of the indoors. Eventually though, I felt like I was missing out so I bundled up and braved the cold.
I saw Finn rolling a ball in the snow attempting to make it bigger. This was something I always wanted to do as a kid. We didn’t get much snow in Alabama. There was only once I remember having enough snow to build a snowman or to sled in. And forget about snow gear. Our “mittens” were athletic socks covered with bread bags. My mom was always very resourceful that way.
The bread bags went on our feet as well, between our socks and boots.
I remember attempting the big snowball. I saw it in cartoons all the time and occasionally in a live action movie. It looked like you could just roll it and in no time you’d have a giant ball.
I’ve tried it a number of times in adulthood with no success. It simply wouldn’t work for me. So I was watching Finn thinking, “ Aww.” But within a few rolls, his was the size of basketball. A few more and it was the size of a tire. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. He didn’t seem the least bit surprised. It’s what he intended to do.
As it grew too heavy to push, his friend Teo came running to help him. Together they pushed it until it was the size of a big bass drum.
“This can be our fort!” Teo said.
“You can have this one,” Finn said. “I’ll make another one!”
He rolled another one almost as big as the first and put it beside the other. After discussing the possibilities for each ball, they decided to dig in them from opposite sides, then they could meet in the middle and have “the perfect tunnel.” They found a couple of small shovels and in no time had twin forts. Sebastian and Liam rolled a giant ball of their own and turned it into a mini slide.
Observing it all, I kind of marveled at how everything had unfolded. It was beautiful and even a little miraculous. But also very simple.
A couple of hours of playing outdoors had snowballed into half a dozen little life lessons.
David Dewitt is an artist, blogger, and painter who lives with his family in the Rondout Valley. For more, visit daviddewitt.com.