Winter is in full force here in Upstate New York, replete with wind chills, blowing and drifting snow and those beloved days to all school children called snow days. Even with bitter cold weather, children go sledding and make snowmen. I recall with fondness what must have been harsh winters to adults in Massachusetts but were winter wonderlands to children.
Bundled in thick snowsuits and barely able to move, we donned mittens and boots against the cold and snow and relished being outdoors. The snow was perfect one winter’s day in Massachusetts and the three of us sisters decided to build snowmen. Twenty-five of them to be precise. When our cheeks were rosy red, hands and feet almost numb from the cold, we retreated inside to the warmth of the fireplace and hot chocolate with marshmallows.
Life was good and simple. It was a great time and place to grow up in the rural Western Massachusetts town of Sturbridge. This was our slice of heaven on earth. We experienced life and savored every moment. Sometimes I mourn these times when I view what young people are so engaged in today with their technology and gadgetry. Even though we now have young children in the neighborhood, I no longer see much outdoor activity to speak of and certainly no snowmen or kids simply playing in the snow.
During the last big blizzard more than twenty years hence, kids in the neighborhood gathered in our yard with saucers, pieces of cardboard or anything that would slide and enjoyed outdoor fun down our mound of snow at the end of the driveway. Snowplows could not get through to plow the roads so everyone had an unexpected mini-vacation of three days that winter. Why should it take an event like that to gather people together outdoors for fun? Sledding down our two hills in my backyard in Massachusetts was the best adventure we children could ever imagine.
Perhaps we need to take time to be with one another and to enjoy nature and the outdoors and get that much-needed fresh air. Take a walk through your neighborhood and practice saying hello to one another again. Reflect on what is important in your lives. Just be.