All Blog Posts

Why, God?

December 3, 2014

I’m receiving pictures from fellow bloggers showing snow-covered front lawns and backyards, reminding me of the first time I saw snow. Mrs. Chatterbox was an Army brat and grew up in Germany where snow is plentiful, but for me snow was an elusive mirage constantly out of reach. The Santa Clara Valley, home until I was twenty, was famous for its moderate fruit-growing weather, and the snow I coveted would have destroyed crops of luscious apricots and pears, but when my family piled into our car for a trip to the coast we’d pass a road stop in the Santa Cruz mountains called Santa’s Village, a tawdry collection of quaint buildings covered in plywood candy canes and plaster snow. I’d ask if we could stop and walk around, but it always seemed to be July and I was the only family member wanting to visit a strip-mall North Pole. It did set my mind to thinking about the real stuff. During the hot summer months when the ice cream truck rolled down our street, I’d order a snow cone and imagine it came from a fantastically frigid place like Iceland.


I’m told a few flakes fell when I was in the first grade, but not enough to stick to the ground. Still, I can imagine running around the playground during recess, letting soggy snowflakes melt on my tongue. One Sunday morning when I was seven, we woke to an unexpected dusting. I stared out the window in amazement at the wondrously white world outside my window. I ached to run outside and roll on our lawn like a puppy, even though the snow wasn’t much thicker than a heavy frost. That was when I was told to dress for church.


Were my parents out of their minds? We were going to church when there was one of God’s miracles covering our very lawn! Why couldn’t we pray in the snow? What a gyp!


By the time my family was dressed and had climbed into the car, other vehicles had left tracks and the trampled snow no longer looked pristine. I struggled through Mass, wondering if all that precious powder was melting on the far side of  those stained glass windows. I spent the hour on bent knees, praying the snow wouldn’t disappear before we reached home.


I was fixated with the image of a snowman. In my mind, I was already creating him. Like a budding Michelangelo, I was determined to free my snowman from the confines of my mind, bring him forth into the physical world. By the time Mass concluded, my yet-to-be-built snowman was already my imaginary friend.


Alas, by the time we arrived home the sun was shining and the last of the snow, now puddles of trodden brown slush, were all that remained of our brief winter wonderland. Against all reason, I tried to build my snowman, but I might as well have been trying to pile chilly gravy left over from Thanksgiving. Reflecting on this moment, I’ve cast myself as a chubby little Odysseus, fist elevated and cursing the heavens.


Snow returned to the Santa Clara Valley—four years later. I was eleven, and this time it snowed several inches, enough to build my snowman. It was a Saturday during Christmas break, no school or church. I worked on my creation for hours, using socks as mittens to protect my hands from the cold. I received a mild case of frostbite, but I didn’t mind. Unlike Michelangelo’s work, my snowman didn’t last through the centuries, but he did hang around for a few days. 








Snow is great when you're a child. The wonderment, the days off from school, the manic snowball fights. When you're an adult? Ya gotta shovel all that crap. We're moving south as soon as our daughter graduates from college.
By: Al Penwasser on December 3, 2014
If it had been me, i probably would have let you play in the snow before church. The few times it has snowed here, i awakened my kids and let them stay up super late and let them skip out on other stuff to play. We don't get it often enough to waste it!
By: mimi on December 3, 2014
socks as mittens... how cute. :)
By: TexWisGirl on December 3, 2014
It will be interesting to see what snow we get this year. We have had winters when I was sick of the white stuff and winters when I fell in love with each gentle snowflake.
By: Tabor on December 3, 2014
Snow so beautifully pristine when fresh and great fun for kids. Coming from Scotland we got plenty of it. Loved it as a child though and playing with my children it it.
By: John on December 3, 2014
Growing up in North Dakota I loved the snow for the first couple of months, then it began to be bothersome and I began hoping for Spring.
By: Catalyst on December 3, 2014
If I had grown up without snow, I'd probably be eager to play in it. After years of blizzards, though, Florida suits me. I hope I never see snow again. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on December 3, 2014
Visiting here from Jimmy's.....what a heartwarming story! I've always lived where it snows heavily (I'm in the snowbelt now) and I hate it, but I do remember the joy as a kid, building snow forts, which were really igloos that lasted for months. My son has a friend in college who is from Texas. She was very excited to see her first snowfall last year, but I think is tired of it by now.
By: Bijoux on December 3, 2014
Your cold gravy description was funny and spot on. Spent years in Florida and some in Ohio. I always prayed to be snow bound. Never happened Snow is the friend of children and retirees who don't have to slide to work in it. I'm at the perfect age.
By: Akansas Patti on December 3, 2014
I love the snow, until around the end of March then it just gets slushy and is annoying.
By: Cranky on December 3, 2014
Until I was about 9 we lived on the east coast- I loved snow! Growing up in the Bay Area there was no snow unless we went up into the Sierras to ski....but once I settled with my own family in Portland we had just the right amount of snow...the first winter in our own home my son and I built a snow rabbit ( 1966 ? ) and his father came home and became very upset that we had "wrecked" the snow by making that snow rabbit....really!! No wonder our marriage did not last. Did you build snow men once you got to Portland?
By: Kathe W. on December 3, 2014
Peggy's father made her go to school during a rare Southern snow, just as he made her go to school when she was ill. He was that way about duty, and it harmed her, in my opinion, because she grew up to be a slave to duty. My parents were the opposite in that I never had to do a damn thing that I didn't want to do, and that harmed me. How odd that Peggy and I should have ever forgotten together, because whereas I sometimes weak of character in her eyes, she's a martinet in mine.
By: Snowbrush on December 3, 2014
With your artistic skills and talent, I can only imagine the snowmen and other creatures you would create if you lived in snow country!
By: Pixel Peeper on December 3, 2014
As one who benefits from snow days, I am all for a good dusting, or amounts up to a foot. Haven't built a snowman in a while.
By: Val on December 3, 2014
It's always interesting to hear another viewpoint on snow. we always want what we can't have. Since we played in the snow for 4 or 5 months a year we used snow for many different activities.
By: red on December 3, 2014
I remember when my friend David moved from L.A. to our little neighborhood in the New York suburbs, in second grade. He saw his first snowflakes, just bout this time of year, and I still remember how he ran around his backyard shouting and screaming and trying to catch the flakes in his mouth. He was truly amazed.
By: Tom Sightings on December 3, 2014
I remember the wonder of the first snow of a season and those bursts of energy to get a Snowman rolled and stacked. Great physical energy, cheeks red, the breath often visible and usually always followed by hot chocolate and admiration of the cold sentry standing in the yard.
By: Tom Cochrun on December 3, 2014
We got snow a little more often than that growing up in NC, but it was still a HUGE treat when it happened.;
By: The Bug on December 3, 2014
I grew up in the Northeast and have always felt a little sorry for people who didn't. Christmas isn't really Christmas unless it's white. You did a great job conveying childish delight at the unusual CA snow and adorable snowman. But at least you have oceans. Plenty of people in the Midwest have never been in the ocean.
By: Lexa Cain on December 4, 2014
As sick as we become of the snow before too deeply into the winter, there's no denying the magic of a fresh covering. That partly stems from the joys of childhood and partly for a loving respect for nature. A few inches fell here yesterday. Today is bright and sunny but very cold. It's going to stick around for a while and I thank you for my renewed appreciation.
By: Hilary on December 4, 2014
you paint such a woeful portrait of your longing for the white stuff. Your 11 year old self with a minor case of frostbite is also so dear. I have friends who have never been in snow and they are adults.....I feel badly for them. Snow is glorious.
By: Oma Linda on December 4, 2014
As a native Californian, I can relate to this story. Seeing snow, especially as a youngin, was always exciting.
By: Robyn Engel on December 4, 2014
I feel for you! I was born and raised in south Florida, land of sun, intense heat and humidity. We did, however get a miracle day of snow back in 1977. The let us out of classes that morning so that we could stand outside and catch the snowflakes on our tongue. Of course the snow melted instantly but it was still fun. The I lived in Missouri during my college years and had plenty of snow. And I NEVER tired of it either.
By: Marcia @ Menopausal Mother on December 5, 2014
Of course, growing up in the Midwest, snow was a constant. But I enjoyed it as a kid!
By: Michael Manning on December 5, 2014
Your story here reminded me of hearing about a five year-old, who burst out in hysterical tears after being rained on while he was playing in his front yard down around LA several years ago. His mother had no idea what was wrong with him until she later realized that it was first time he had ever seen rain after hearing a weatherman hoping that the end to the severe drought might finally be coming to an end. Yeah, it sounds like one of those urban legends things, but I still find it to be a cool anecdote. Of course, the rain account may very well be just a figment of my imagination, fueled by way too many hours behind the wheel of a big truck at a time. For I also remember getting snowed on while passing through the northern edge of Riverside, CA one day during the late 80s.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on December 5, 2014
It's all a matter of perspective. Ask the folks in Buffalo, New York if receiving 7 plus feet of snow in 48 hours. Yikes!
By: Daniel LaFrance on December 7, 2014

Leave a Comment


Return to All Blog Posts Main Page

RSS 2.0   Atom