Snow coming down in our yard in NE Tennessee. (Photo by Paulette J. Buchanan)
Snowy deer trail in our yard. (Photo by Paulette J. Buchanan)
Snowy Boone Lake as seen from our backyard. (Photo by Paulette J. Buchanan)
As I write this blog in northeast Tennessee, snow is falling at a steady pace. I spent most of life in coastal New England, and the snowfall outside my window reminds me of the better days of my childhood. I loved getting out in the snow as a child in the 1960s, sledding down the steep hill at our neighborhood playground, hanging on for dear life with all my neighbor friends on the toboggan as our grandfatherly neighbor pulled us around with his snow mobile over the hills and through the valleys and curves of his large property. Afterwards his wife would fix us all hot chocolate as we warmed ourselves by the woodstove in their barn. As I came into my teen and adult years, I began to love taking walks in the snow, especially at night. Walking has always been a stress reliever for me from the time I was a small child seeking reprieve from a less than ideal home environment, besides the fact that walking is just really good exercise, whether done by oneself or with a friend or two. I discovered in my early teens while walking in my neighborhood at night during falling snow that when I stood near a street light and looked up, the snowflakes seemed to transform into stars and it was as if I were traveling through endless space. Later in life, my walks through downtown Mystic on snowy evenings with my always adventurous German Shepherds, buying a bag of warm roasted nuts from the local pharmacy, and greeting others taking their wintry stroll through town, was like being transported into a Currier and Ives painting. From my childhood to being an adult, I loved to take in how snow hushed so many sounds, except the soothing harmonious tones of the coastal lighthouse foghorns I could hear on my walks or as I lay in my bed at night. These are all beautiful, soothing memories of snowfall in quintessential coastal New England that have quieted and comforted me while other storms raged in my life.
The gift of snow came to not mean as much in my adult years whenever I’d have to drive to work in the slushy yuck. But even so, a flicker of the beauty still pierced through my mind as I’d watch the mesmerizing flakes fall and blanket everything in its pure white. My husband told me once when he worked in Hartford that on a day of steady snowfall one of his coworkers, a man newly arrived from India, took his break and stood outside in total wonder at the marvel of snow coming down so gently and covering the drab city in its white powder. He scooped up handfuls of downy snow and could see myriads of tiny individual flakes, all unique in their shape and design. He told my husband that being from India he could never conceive of the notion of snow, never mind its wonder, until he experienced it that day on his break from work.
The kind of snow that shuts down schools and many offices and businesses can teach us the importance of embracing the simple joy of relaxing and just taking the time to watch the calming, quiet, heaven-sent beauty blanket the cold, lifeless, grey-brown earth. I write this blog on MLK, Jr. day, so schools and many other places are closed anyway — an additional bonus on a snowy day. It’s a good day to snuggle in, and I’m grateful for my home, but grateful too for the many churches and charity organizations in my area that have opened up their doors as warming centers for our area’s homeless so that even the most destitute can enjoy the beauty of snow from the comfort of a shelter.
Our cozy fireplace on a wintry day. (Photo by Paulette J. Buchanan)
I had thought earlier about writing this month’s blog on important legislative issues in our state and in our country, and the need to let our legislators know where we stand on important issues and to encourage them as they work to advance beneficial policies in our state and federal legislatures. Staying educated on current legislative issues and making our voices heard on those issues certainly must be done, especially as state legislators are just beginning to propose the bulk of this year’s bills. But I will leave that work off for another time. Instead, the gift of Tennessee snow, a rarity in itself, I will enjoy on this day. I will put aside the never ending work and let myself be calmed as I watch the individual flakes gently weave their blanket of purity on our earth. I will cherish the good memories that snow gave me as a child and later as an adult, and be grateful for the gift of snow on this day.