Not even my parents can remember a blizzard like last week’s— when we shoveled half a foot of snow off the pond just so we could skate, while the wind reddened our faces and froze our hair. More snow covered our work in minutes.
The sky cleared on Wednesday, so now it’s sun on ice— blinding. Papa Jay’s pond is thick enough to drag the snowblower down onto it, and the boys work it like a little zamboni, while my sister and our friends lace up and pull our hockey sticks out from under the johnboat. Then we carve our way between goals, checking each other into snow drifts as we go.
My bones are heavy at the end of each afternoon. I feel a crick in my back from bending over my hockey stick, and my skin burns from where snow found the waistband of my pants.
There’s hardly time for sledding these days, but I remember the winter it snowed ten inches and we packed it into a ramp at the pond’s edge. We’d sail down the hill, hit the ramp, and crash across the ice. My brothers brought their friends who brought their sisters. My parents and grandparents stood in the sunroom with binoculars and cameras. We went home with tailbones that hurt to the touch.
In winter of 2014, the pond froze in time for the Olympics, and I flew through my schoolwork to dig white figure skates out from a box in Papa’s basement. I would set my camera on the concrete bench and tape my “routines,” then tramp home to watch my inspiration and plan for tomorrow. (I was better at hockey.)
Mom rings the dinner bell, we lean our shovels against the fence, and trudge through the gate, across the yard. I can’t bend my toes inside my boots but stop long enough to watch a wind sweep up snow and whirl it. The falling sun catches the dance, and the words I read early that morning find me:
“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3).
In the palm of my mitten, flakes with points and patterns rest. I turn them loose, then toward the house.
Some friends gather their coats and head home. Some linger for dinner, and Mom’s chicken and potatoes never taste so rich; coffee was never so hot.
I fall asleep without pulling the covers back, a book still in my hands.