I have never liked winter. It’s cold. It’s cloudy. I’m cold. Not really cloudy. But I am white. And I’m not talking about “honky” or “cracker” white. I mean my skin is a whiter shade of pale. I would have been one of those people that, had I lived hundreds of years ago, I would appear wealthy no matter my social status. Except for the fact that thin was not in and I’m like an underfed string bean. I guess I would have been an anomaly. A skinny white anomaly. As someone who can’t tan if the sun’s survival depended on it, I selfishly wish that luscious brown skin was still considered ugly.
But back to winter. It wouldn’t be so bad if this chilly season was a bit shorter, but it’s always so long and drawn out. I don’t like cold. I like being able to walk outside in bare feet. Sometimes I still do that when putting out the garbage, but the results are always disastrous and I never seem to learn my lesson.
And let’s not even get into the tribulation of Eskimo-ing the kids every time you have to go somewhere. Give yourself an extra twenty minutes, baby, ’cause you’re gonna need every parka-donning second of it.
But kids love winter. Or rather snow. They seem oblivious to the fact that their extremities have reached sub-zero temperatures and that their little red noses are leaking liquid snot that is freezing on their desensitized lip before they can wipe it away with their soaking wet mittens.
Yup, once that snow falls they beg you to go out. And of course, it takes even longer to get them ready for these romps in the white stuff, because you have to break out the heavy duty mitts, the thick warm boots, the snow pants, the whole shi-bang. And I have learned from experience: always make sure everyone has peed before you start the donning-of-the-winter-crap ritual.
So, after a few days of my kids asking to play outside and me always having a convenient excuse (hey, Kaelum can’t go out yet, it’s legit!), we finally coordinate Kaelum’s nap with Mommy’s motivation and the three of us head to the great outdoors. And this is how our adventure went:
You know the part about marching the kids to the bathroom for the Battle of John and marching them to the back room for the Battle of the Boots, so I’ll skip that lengthy part.
The kids race out the back door while I am still donning my own winter gear, which is a little on the skimpy side considering I am a veteran of Canadian winters. Thankfully this one has been milder than a wedge of new cheddar. As they are rolling around in the backyard it suddenly dawns on me that there are several land mines (read: dog poop) out there that are hiding under the freshly fallen snow. I quickly yell at them to take the polar party to the front yard. Crisis averted.
In the front yard we go, where the kids want to take part in the epitome of snow play by building a snowman. Frosty comes together pretty easily and before we know it we have a lumpy, four foot, leaf-strewn sculpture just begging for some personality. I see Hayden eyeing up my Burning Bush and I quickly stop him with instructions to go around the side of the house to get some arms from the twig pile. Crisis averted.
Let’s pause the story here and rewind it two years, give or take a month. Our neighbours had four children, ages 4, 5, 6 and 7. And I think I’m busy. Anyway, they were outside and we were outside and we decided to collaborate and make a neighbourly snowman on our front yard. Chaos ruled as six young children gleefully worked together to build a lopsided snowman. We needed arms. I told one of the neighbour kids to go around the side of the house to get some branches (apparently it’s a recurring theme to have a brush pile at the side of our house. We’ve done a lot of hedge-yanking in the past few years). I looked up just in time to see said neighbour snapping the middle branch of my Tiger Eye Sumac, a beautiful ornamental tree that was a gift from my mother. I inwardly cried but the damage was done and my precious tree branch was repurposed as Frosty’s arm.
Back to the present. I hear a snap and look up. Yup, Hayden broke off the exact same middle branch that spent the last two years slowly slowly fighting to change the tree back to its former glory. So much for the averted crisis. My mind flashed back and I realized that I gave him the exact same instructions that I gave the neighbour that fateful day two years prior. After a cry of dismay I realized I had no one but myself to blame. Once again, my tree pretty branch bravely served as a snowman’s loyal sidearm.
I send Hayden to the actual brush pile for arm number two. I was so relieved that my tree wasn’t going to loose another precious limb that I didn’t even think about the fact that the dog sometimes does her business at the side of the house. This thought was still lost on me until I noticed the tell tale marks littering the front yard. I am shocked at how much snow can be contaminated by one little boy with crap on his size 12 boot.
This posed another possible crisis. Bailey is devouring snow like it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet and Hayden has managed to mar the entire front yard’s snow supply with his dung-covered footwear. I instruct Hayden to stay off the boulevard and tell Bailey to only eat snow off the boulevard and (hopefully) crisis averted.
Our snowman ended up with a dog food mouth, the neighbour’s pilfered driveway rocks for eyes, and no nose because apparently celery just won’t do as a substitute for an AWOL carrot. But his most impressive feature is his fancy tree arm, even if it made him look a tad lopsided, like having a million dollar prosthetic next to a paltry real arm.
No winter romp would be complete without scooping up some (dog poop-free) snow and pouring maple syrup on it for a good old earthy-tasting bowl of sweet ice. Maple syrup and snow while your frozen toes regain their feeling; talk about Canadian, eh?