Back in the good ol’ days, Christmas usually meant snow was in the air, or on the ground, or at LEAST in the immediate forecast. Kids of all ages yanked their sleds and toboggans down from garage walls and dusted them off; moms all across the area got busy pulling out the heavy winter coats and gloves and first-aid kits; and everyone waited in anticipation for the cold white stuff.
And chances were good that enough snow would fall either around or on Christmas to satisfy us sledding fools; those hardy and daring souls who lived on the edge and flirted with disaster on a semi-regular basis. The dam at Brookfield’s City Lake or the hill at the water plant just on the outskirts of town were our main jettison points; they were long walks but well worth it. The exhilarating rush of bitter cold against our faces again and again as we raced with breakneck speed down the embankments made up for the tired trudge back home at the end of the day.
Those are the kinds of days that are few and far between now for kids in today’s northern Missouri area. Major snowfalls have seemed to shift further south towards the Ozarks region, and we now receive but a smattering of frozen precipitation. Heavy snow warnings are a rarity in the Green Hills, it seems.
Yet, as I write this on the last day of November 2006, Brookfield and Marceline may be receiving a blanket of white stuff during the overnight hours. The National Weather Service is forecasting a major snow event, perhaps in the 10-14 inch range. Now, we KNOW how often those weather folks get their forecasts right (NOT!) but it is something to look forward to…the possibility of December starting off with a thick white covering, stretching as far as the eye can see.
Speaking of this, let me reminisce with you for a few moments about another deeply ingrained memory from my childhood in Missouri. This one took place while rabbit hunting with the Dysart family during a cold December morning in the mid 1970’s.
A little background here: the Dysarts (Allen, Jeannette, Debbie and Jamie) were like my “other” family, and I spent a lot of time with them fishing, camping, and trying to hunt; I never seemed to get the hang of the latter. Allen was the person from whom I learned to appreciate the beauty of nature; later on, God taught me to appreciate the creation of it as well.
So, on this bitterly cold winter’s day, Allen, his son Jamie, and I crunched through the ice-covered snow pack, keeping our eyes peeled for rabbit tracks. With hooded parkas, insulated gloves, and knee-high snow boots, we resembled a trio of astronauts exploring an alien world for the first time; a step here, a bending down there to check something out, and then another step.
And I can remember that day, as I glanced at the unbroken sea of white that undulated before me under the rays of a bright, weak sun, I thought this: there was such a mixture of joy, and awe, and wonder in my very soul; the huge expanse set before me looked so pure, with no footprints; no tracks to mar it. Just ever so still, and peaceful. I felt as if my heart stopped beating in my chest; and as I drew a long, shuddering breath in, I shook my head in wonderment with a smile clearly etched on my face.
Thinking about that time so long ago still brings a grin to this day. That’s what the beauty of a snowfall does to me.
So, yes, it’s with a fervent hope and prayer that I am looking forward to seeing a few nice snow days this year. I’ll go to sleep tonight in anticipation of a thick, fluffy carpet of white greeting us on Friday morning. As I drift off to sleep, I’ll hear the hoots and hollers from hundreds of school kids as they race out to the sheds and garages and hurriedly yank down their sleds and inflatable tubes; I’ll be dreaming that there will be the sighs from moms as they bundle their children up in winter coats and gloves and set out the first-aid kits; and I’ll be fantasizing about the race to see who’ll be first off the top of the dam at the lake, or from the water plant, or from the M-hill in Marceline, or from the countless other sledding locales in our area.
And, before you ask it…yes, I’ll be dreaming that I’ll be one of those “kids” hooting and hollering as I feel the cold air whistle past my face. Even though I’m 44, I’ll always be like a little kid when it comes to sledding, or enjoying any one of a number of God’s wonderful creations: the snow, the woods, the river bottoms…they all hold a special place in my heart.
I hope to not only be dreaming about these things…I hope to be doing them, too!
Yes…I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…how about you?
As 2006 comes to an end—have a very Merry Christmas!!
Richard, Jeannie, and their kids wish everyone the very best during Christmas this year. Hopefully, you’ll find them somewhere on the snowy weekend, watching Richard sledding to his heart’s content. His column appears monthly in the Linn County Leader; you can reach him at his online blog, https://sliceofhome.wordpress.com, or via e-mail at email@example.com