We are in the middle of a “significant winter-weather event,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. What ridiculous words to describe the quiet beauty of the snow falling right now.
I watch out my bay window as my youngest son walks to the neighbor’s house to play. He is light enough to shuffle on top of the thick layer of ice hidden beneath a few inches of snow so dry and fluffy it looks at a distance like a cloud. The effect is quite miraculous, as if he really were an angel just skimming the streets of heaven. His hands are shoved firmly in the pockets of his blue winter coat with the hood up, his blue pants iced with snow from his knees down. He walks on the frozen water without hurrying, as if he has all the time in the world to savor the peace of falling snow.
The neighbor’s deck has seven steps, covered in strata of snow-ice-snow. Jack approaches this obstacle as he has approached so many obstacles in his six years…slowly and deliberately, with confidence and determination. He gauges the safety of his climb with a poke of his snow boot and realizes he must break through the layer of ice under the snow to keep from sliding backward, so he does. He also realizes that with such uncertain footing, he must take his hands out of his pockets for balance and hold the rail. Two stairs up, his hands are cold, so he stops, assures that both feet are firmly planted, pulls one red glove from a pocket, puts it on, extracts the other red glove, and puts it on. Now he can proceed. He wobbles only once and calmly steadies himself. He makes it to the top, saunters to the door, knocks, and waits for it to open. It does, and he disappears inside a warm house full of noisy children.
My house is very quiet. All the noise that filled it yesterday is now at my neighbor’s house. I watch the snow falling and listen to the silence. I revel in the peace.
Jack knows something I have forgotten: the calm peace of taking your time, not rushing hither, thither, and yon in a search for…what? I find myself telling him daily, “Hurry up, Jack. We’re late. We need to get inside. It’s cold. Hurry, hurry, hurry!” Telling him to hurry never works. The more rushing noises I make, the slower he moves, as if my voice chills his blood and makes him sluggish. His slowness says to me, “Slow down, Mommy. We don’t need to rush,” I do not listen.
How frustrating that must be for him. How disappointing that his mother cannot share his pace, his peace, his appreciation of the moment. He stubbornly will not let my rush break through his peace. This is very wise of him, and it drives me crazy.
I do not walk on the clouds. I sink. And in sinking, in fighting the ice, I move more slowly than Jack toward the goal, whatever that goal is. Rushing slows me down. On snow days, the goal gets muffled anyway. The city calls with a recorded message telling people to stay home. We’re under eight inches of snow and ice, which means in bureaucratic-speak we’re under a "Level 2 snow alert." I had not intended to go anywhere anyway.
I love snow days. I need an excuse to stay home, slow down, drink a hot mocha and wait for better weather, weather in which I can rush around again. It takes a severe weather event to slow me down. I need to slow down. I crave it. And I will be happy when it is over and things go back to normal.
Normal. Not better, just normal. I will forget the lesson of falling snow as soon as the roads are clear. I will rush Jack to school again, to therapy, to eat, to brush his teeth. And he will try his best to remind me to slow down, to stop fighting the ice.
I will try to listen to him, to remember the lesson taught by snow falling.
And I will inevitably fail.