The Ruined Snow

Joe observed on the day of our big snowstorm that it was a pity that rain was forecast two days later — as he put it, “such beautiful snow, but you have only one day to enjoy it before it is ruined.” True to his observation, the next day was truly glorious: the sun came out and shone down on two feet of sparkly powder. However, Lev was unimpressed. I tried to take him sledding, but he didn’t enjoy it and cried to go home; he still didn’t like the instability of the sled. He kept to the shoveled bits as he walked around, and though he ran his fingers through the powder, he didn’t seem that interested in it.

That is not to say that he didn’t enjoy that day immensely. However, the big appeal was not the snow: it was the chance to see Machines In Action. First, all the neighbors came out to shovel, and he liked watching the shovels and ice picks doing their thing. Then for even more excitement, a friendly neighbor came out with a snowblower and helped people with the difficult job of punching out to the street. Later our landlord showed up with a much bigger snowblower and did our sidewalk. Lev was endlessly fascinated by snowblowers. Finally, to top off the excitement, we passed a parking lot where a caterpillar was loading snow into a dump truck. Since he spends so much time with his book “Roadwork” I thought he had a right to watch the machines from the book in the flesh, as it were, so we stopped and watched the caterpillar scooping snow. He watched silently without fidgeting for a whole hour.

As Joe predicted, two days later it rained, and then the whole week afterward it was above freezing. By Joe’s standard’s, the snow was certainly ruined: the light, clean fluffy drifts turned into thin, yellowish mats of sodden brick-like substance. But at that point, Lev warmed up to it. Now if he poked the snow, it made a very distinct impression (a soggy, yellowish impression, but never mind.) He delighted in finding a thin patch of snow and tracking footprints all over it. On thicker drifts, he took a stick and drew lines in the snow. He picked up a clod of snow and handed it to me, and not knowing what he wanted, I threw it hard at the pavement so when it hit it exploded dramatically. He really liked that, and ran around looking for more clods to hand to me (he tried throwing them himself, but to his disappointment wasn’t tall enough or strong enough to make the same effect. For once in my life I was admired for my throwing ability — little does he know that mommy throws like a girl.) Finally, best of all, in some places the snow had melted completely and left puddles and mud. Oh boy! If stomping in puddles is good, stomping in mud puddles is better.

I guess, from the babies’ point of view, snow is best when its ruined.