Full of Georgia sweet potatoes that we baked in crisp, soft-centered medallions for lunch, we have enough energy to head outside. That is, we have enough energy to spend 20 minutes herding our kids into the layers of clothing, snowpants, hats, mittens, scarves, coats, and boots required in zero degree, still-snowing weather. Sam wears my grandpa Andrew Lehman’s scarf, which I wore in college, crocheting a bright orange patch to keep it alive. Stella wears the hat my husband Andrew wore when we first started dating in college; she likes its dangly pom-pom.
Well-packaged, we clomp out through our disheveled mudroom and into the snow. It fell most of the night and all morning. It keeps coming, now in small fast bits that tingle our cheeks, and now in bigger dreamy flakes that circle and move sideways. The driveway needs shoveling for the fourth time, but it’ll wait.
We have sleds.
We have a rip-ready 5 year old and a semi-convinced 3 year old and all of the enthusiasm from our own childhoods juicing our untrained limbs. Neither kid can make much headway in snow up to their waists, so we tote them. Stella, wary of the sled, will only ride piggyback. Sam squawks excitedly riding uphill on the sled pulled by Andrew.
In fact, it’s slow sledding, this nearly two feet of softness. We leave the sleds and hike uphill towards a tall drift, wading through snow that varies from calf-deep to butt-deep.
Moving with resistance feels satisfying. I have always loved being immersed in water. Even frozen into billions of unique, feathery crystals, this water holds us. It cushions, forgiving us when we flail and fall. We can swim. I feel buoyant.
I feel out of breath. We flop down at the base of the drift. Soon, Andrew tosses Sam on top of it, and they make a sliding board, which delights even our skeptical Stella, who forgets her frozen nose while sliding. Then, Andrew digs like a badger, emerging with his beard frosted from inside a cave that Sam can nearly sit up in.
Thrashing back downhill, we carry our kids and the warmth of exertion. My ears are full of my breathing, creaking snow under my boots, and the swish of my waterproof pants, but the world is quiet when I pause.
Gulps of the air taste like our well water, fresh and cold. Our legs and sleds have plowed tracks across the smooth hill, and we follow ourselves back to the house.
Tomorrow morning, the wind will have swept the glowing hillside clean. The only deep tracks around the house will be from a rabbit that must’ve gone in over his ears with each hop.