There’s always so much anticipation about snowstorms these days — three or four days of hysterical weather people building up the anticipated storm and snow amounts (oh no, 1 to 3 inches, buy bread and milk!) and then a mediocre dusting of white stuff piddles on the ground.
It sounds like this one may be the real thing, but it’s now midnight and not a flake has fallen. However, it feels and smells like snow, so no doubt it is on its way.
Back in the day we would sit on the stairs trying to hear the weather report on the day before a big storm, hoping to hear the “no school” list on the 10 p.m. news. We’d cheer as soon as we heard it. When we were in Holy Name, the nuns would pile up homework for days because we were out of school a LOT (and the nuns were cheering in the convent, no doubt).
We didn’t ski because we didn’t have mountains in northwest Iowa, but we did have some great hills that turned into treacherous, icy straightaways for sledding. And we did have access to huge tractor tire inner tubes that held 10 kids sandwiched and interlocked by elbows and legs. So I found this poem I wrote awhile ago to celebrate tonight’s predicted snow. It appeared in the Rhode Island Writers Circle Anthology, January 2007.
On Peterson Hill
An icy leftover of ancient glacier
mirrors china blue platter of sky,
set high on a shelf above Iowa fields.
Bitter north winds slap this rise
dotted with red-faced young.
Here, where nothing impedes their gaze,
prairie children do not know mountains.
They won’t learn to strap on skis,
slice down black diamond trails
or control speed by a turn of ankle.
This slope is best for tractor tire inner tubes
cupping swaddled rumps a dozen at a time.
Sliders learn to pull in exposed limbs,
lock arms as wheels bounce and spin
across crusty mounds of winter.
They know those on top will fly off first,
and bottom is safe but bruised for days.
The whole sky reaches to catch them
when a sudden bump suspends all
above blue ice—holding each other’s breath.