A few weeks ago I was sitting in a teacher’s lounge when I got a picture from my sister. There wasn’t anything particularly special about the picture, just a snapshot of a sidewalk and a caption. I couldn’t tell by just looking at the picture, but apparently it was snowing for the first time in Syracuse. Snowing, just in time for my sister’s three-hour, outdoor dendrology lab.
I have to admit, when I first got the message from my sister, I had to sympathize with her. Not that long ago I was the college student trying to take notes while my ears turned red, and my fingers went numb. While I felt bad for my sister, I also dreaded what the picture meant for me. If Clare was already getting snow in Syracuse, it was only a matter of time before we had snow covering the ground here in Jamestown.
Just as I was about to send my response, a banner scrolled across the top of my screen. My mom, who had also received the picture, had beat me to the punch and replied first. I opened the message, expecting to find a motherly reminder to wear a hat and gloves, but what I found a cheery little note suggesting that my sister try catching some of the snowflakes on her tongue.
As you can imagine, I instantly felt guilty for having such a negative reaction to the first few snowflakes of the season. If my mother could find some magic and excitement in the falling snow, why couldn’t I? There was a time, after all, when I actually looked forward to snow.
Growing up, I always used to look forward to the first snowfall. There was just something so magical and exciting about going to bed and waking up to find the lawn covered in white or watching big fat snowflakes fall on the playground outside. As a kid, the first snow of the season meant that snowmen and snowball fights were right around the corner. Before long we would be skating and sliding around on the pond behind the house and sledding down the hill behind the cabin.
So, what changed? Well, for one, I grew up, and my relationship with snow changed. Suddenly, instead of getting excited about sledding and skating I began to worry about snow tires and shoveling. Instead of looking forward to snow days, I dreaded the mornings that I would have to wake up early to dig out my car and drive to work. The snow didn’t change, but my attitude about snow sure had.
After my sister’s picture and my mom’s response to the picture I decided to change my attitude about snow, not just for me, but for the people around me. In my line of work, I am constantly surrounded by children, children who quickly pick up on the attitudes of the adults around them. In my experience young children rarely worry about what the weather is like outside. Rainy days are perfect for jumping in puddles or collecting worms as they wriggle to the surface. Snowy days? Snowy days are perfect for snowball fights and making snow angels. To a child, especially young ones, there is no such thing as bad weather until an adult tells them there is such a thing.
Anyways, I did a little experiment last week during our first major snowfall of the season year. As soon as I saw the huge flakes start to fall, I threw on my jacket, pulled on my snow boots, and went for a walk to celebrate the first snow of the year. It turns out with the right attitude snow can still be pretty magical.
Margaret Foley is a naturalist at Audubon Community Nature Center.
Audubon Community Nature Center builds and nurtures connections between people and nature. ACNC is located just east of Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown. The trails are open from dawn to dusk as is Liberty, the Bald Eagle. The Nature Center is open from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. daily except Sunday when it opens at 1 p.m. More information can be found online at auduboncnc.org or by calling (716) 569-2345.