A Blanket of White

Like most of the East Coast, we certainly had our share of snow in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia during this storm, waking up Thursday morning to a world of sparkling white where we’d previously seen grass and sidewalks. And living in an area where there’s not usually any more than a couple of inches of snow every winter, if that, having a foot of the cold wet white stuff dumped on us has been a bit of an experience, to say the least!

 Both kids as well as adults have enjoyed playing in it, and snowmen are popping up everywhere, with sticks for arms, stones or shells for eyes, carrot or even cucumber noses, and old hats and scarves to keep them “warm”. Families are making snow cream from Grandma’s recipe.

Although there aren’t many hills around here, there are a few small ones found on golf courses or construction sites, and all types of sleds, including trash can lids, boogie boards and other improvised items for sledding, have been out in full force! Even most of the family dogs are enjoying rolling and playing in this new and amazing stuff that’s covering their yards! (Except our little Yorkie, of course, who’s definitely not into snow that’s taller than he is!)

 Roads are still virtually impassable except for 4-wheel drive vehicles, and even those are having trouble on snow packed and icy roads; even plowed streets are still icy at night with the dreaded black ice a worry in the morning. Many homes are still without power in below freezing conditions. Most of us cannot get to our jobs, and unless we can work from home like I fortunately can, or the job pays its employees for such circumstances, they have to take a vacation day if they’re lucky enough to have them.

 But the first responders, the firemen, police officers, medical personnel, road crews in snow plows and salt trucks, power company employees, gas stations, and other essential personnel are hard at work trying to keep us safe and help get our city moving safely again. Thank goodness!

 School and college classes, many businesses, and hundreds of scheduled events have been cancelled throughout the last few days and into the weekend. The participants can’t get there, and even if they could, it’s not safe for anyone else to try to get there either.

 But it’s also brought out the good in many people. Neighbors with snow-capable vehicles have been helping out other neighbors who are stranded or need food or other necessities. Motorists with 4 wheel drive vehicles are stopping to help other drivers who’ve skidded into snow banks or gotten stuck in the drifts. Neighbors’ children are shoveling sidewalks and driveways for those who can’t do it themselves.

 Yes, it’s a mess, and it’s inconvenient, and even dangerous. It disrupts our lives as well as adds a twisted new ingredient to spice up a few days of regular routine. Adults as well as children, even adults who really don’t like the snow, still found themselves somewhat amazed and appreciating the beauty of freshly fallen, unmarked snow, shining like tiny diamonds under the streetlights or in the reflection of the sunset. The look on the faces of children seeing snow for the first time is priceless.

 And since we cannot control the weather, especially in this case, instead of complaining, let’s just stop for a little while and appreciate the beauty, the freshness, in that blanket of cold white frosting that’s filled our area, as well as many others, hiding all the detritus of our everyday lives that we normally see outside, and transforming it into something almost magical. It brings a new freshness that seems to clean up the world around us…even if but for a short time.

 We’ve all been taking pictures of the snow, and many of the photos I’ve seen are breathtaking as they perfectly capture a leaf, a flower, a tree, or other things we take for granted as they’re totally changed by this blanket of snow they’ve been given. Even the ocean and its waves take on a new perspective as the snow and ice transform nature’s everyday beauty into a work of art only a master artist could create.

 So let’s reflect on the snow, not as such a huge inconvenience, even though it has been, but as a special gift from above. Gifts are usually only given for special occasions, such as birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and other similar events.

But once in awhile, out of the blue, someone surprises us with a gift. No special occasion. Just because they want to. Because the gift-giver thinks the recipient is special. And wants to do something unexpected for them.  Many of us may not have wanted this gift, but we got it anyway. And it’s not polite to turn down a gift, or complain about it.

 Snow is not just a huge pile of “stuff” that just suddenly dumps down on us. It’s made up of individual snowflakes, no two of which are exactly alike. It’s made up of individual snowflakes, no two of which are exactly alike.

That pile of snow that’s blocking your door, or still resting on your car, or made up into that snowman in your front yard…all of that snow is made up of individual tiny snowflakes, each with six identical arms poking out from a center ice crystal, and all those snowflakes sticking so closely together you can’t tell where one ends and another begins. Thousands and thousands upon thousands of them. Each one individually formed and designed by a master artist and gift giver to create a special event just for us.

 Think of what it must’ve taken to create each one of those individual snowflakes. No cookie cutter molds were used there. No assembly lines were stamping out the same design over and over. Each one is unique and unlike any other before or after it. And this gift of snow has each of our names on it individually as the recipient. Special delivery, we might say.

 But it’s a gift that can only be treasured and enjoyed for a short time. Usually the snow doesn’t stay around very long, but it seems this one will be here for awhile. Perhaps to remind us to slow down, take it easy, and appreciate the beauty around us. To remind us to help out others in need.

 And to remind us that every day is a new gift from the master gift-giver. It all depends on how we look at it, how we approach it.

 And instead of dreading and disliking the snow like I have been known to do, this time I’m looking at it with a new perspective and a promise of wonders to come. I’m going to appreciate it while it’s here. And I’m going to thank the master gift-giver and look ahead in anticipation of the new gifts that are certainly being planned for us, even as we enjoy this one.

 And maybe…just maybe…I’m going to go build myself a snowman! With a pink scarf and a flamingo by his side!

And then maybe make some snow cream!


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