Tag Archives: snowstorm

Finding your inner kid: where did all the snow go?

Peeking out from the snow in Houghton, Michigan

Peeking out from the snow in Houghton, Michigan

Some of you reading this are probably in the midst of what is being reported as one of the worst blizzards to hit the East Coast since the infamous Blizzard of ’78. If you are, you are probably NOT wondering where all the snow went!

Ahhhh, the Blizzard of ’78…..

In the summer of 1977 my family moved from Michigan to St. James, New York, a little town on the North Shore of Long Island.  I was going into 5th grade, my older brothers into 8th and 9th grades. Long Island is typically not a very wintry place. Winter’s were cold, but seemed to be more rainy than snowy and in the many years we lived there it was rare to have a white Christmas. I’m sure there is some geographic explanation to this based on the island being surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the southern shore and the Long Island Sound on the northern shore, but I don’t really know why.

But our first winter there we were treated to the Blizzard of ’78. It really was an epic snowstorm, worthy of the praise it still gets today. Although official tallies of the amounts of snow were mostly in the two to three feet range, it was the drifting that was so amazing. We awoke to drifts of snow, three or four feet deep in parts of our driveway and drifts up against the house that were probably four to five feet high. It was much, much worse in many places.

I remember coming out the first morning of the storm to see just the top half of our cars sticking out of the snow. I remember my dad and brothers and I digging out the driveway and creating a maze of pathways with crisp white walls of packed snow that we could walk through to get around our property.  Of course, I remember school being closed for several days. There was so much snow we were able to dig tunnels and make forts that we, as kids, could actually climb inside. For a kid in 5th grade it was an absolute winter dream come true.

Granted, that was an unusual snowstorm, but in general it doesn’t seem to snow as much as it did when I was a kid. Or does it? I’ve heard others make that same comment and sometimes I wonder if that is really true, or if like a lot of things I remember from childhood, it just seemed like more snow because I was smaller. We’ve seen our share of blizzards in the twenty years or so that my family has now lived back in Michigan. And it snows here… A LOT.  But it’s been quite some time since we’ve had a snowstorm rip through and drop two feet of snow on us. It has happened occasionally but not that often. It’s weird, but I wonder how my kids will remember the Michigan winters and if they’ll ever get to experience a winter storm that they’ll talk about for the rest of their lives.

I was up in Houghton Michigan this week.  Houghton, Michigan is a little town, built on the mining industry that sits within the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  It’s a land mass that juts far out into icy cold Lake Superior and with the water on both sides, the lake effect snow machine is always on there in the winter months. Houghton on average records in the neighborhood of about two hundred inches of snowfall every year, although talking to people in the area, the last few years have been mild for them as well. But this year, at least within the last couple of weeks, they have been getting hit with a lot of snow and the town appeared like what I remember my little world looking like during the Blizzard of ’78.

I thought a lot about my kids during the few days I was in that area. Not only because I was away from home, but because the constant snowfall, the foot high covering of snow on the rooftops of the houses in the local neighborhoods and the thirty foot piles of snow that the plows had stacked up, brought back a little twinge of that childhood bliss that comes out when the snow is deep, the wind is blowing and you’re bundled up in your winter jacket and boots and gloves and a hat. Like many of us in the adult world, I’ve realized that each year of my life, the “inner kid” in me gets harder and harder to find. He’s still there but it seems to take a lot more coaxing to get him to come out from behind the curtain of work stress and technology and raising teenagers and doing laundry and dishes and all the other grown-up things I have to do.

A massive blizzard isn’t going to change that but just as a snowflake falls from the sky, lands on the ground, melts to water, and evaporates back into the air, so do our lives cycle through many different stages and finding ways to set aside those responsibilities and keep that “inner kid” alive, no matter what stage you are in, is so important. There’s no question, it can be as challenging as shoveling a driveway covered in three to four feet of snow.

But it’s doable.

Last night the same storm that is now pounding the Northeast, a Clipper I heard it called on one weather report, dropped three to four inches of snow in our area.

Not much in the big picture, but probably just enough snow to go sledding.

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The Snow Globe

A man once lived in a globe made of glass.
It sat on a base made of shiny new brass.
Inside of this globe seemed to always be snowing.
Snowing and sleeting and drifting and blowing.

He had a small house with some trees and a yard.
A family of four with a pet St. Bernard.
At the edge of the globe, a little old train.
Would circle the town, he couldn’t complain.

He loved when it snowed, he believed it a blessing.
The big fluffy flakes were so very refreshing.
Music would play when the snow would come down.
That came from the church in the center of town.

And in the town square on those cold snowy nights.
Was a large Christmas tree all covered in lights.
T’was peaceful and calm with the square all aglow.
With the tree’s lighted branches covered in snow.

See this globe, it sat on a little girl’s shelf.
On a wall that she’d decorated all by herself.
There were posters and pictures and photos and things.
Knickknacks and tchotchkes and dolls made of strings.

But her favorite of all was the globe full of snow.
She would wind up the winder to make the train go.
And in the town square she’d watch all the people.
While the music would play, like bells from a steeple.

She would shake it all up so the snow’d start to fall.
Then set it back down on the shelf on her wall.
She’d watch while the snow fell all over the town.
She’d watch ‘til the very last flake hit the ground.

She would make it snow five times or ten times a day.
Or whenever she wanted to hear church bells play.
And the man would be proud as his little town glowed.
He’d smile at the girl as she watched while it snowed.

Now this girl, she grew older, as little girls do.
Her tastes, they were changing to things that were new.
She began to show less and less interest in toys.
Instead she was focused on clothes and on boys.

Then one day the man, well he waited and waited.
He waited all day and he sure felt deflated.
Because the girl never came to shake up the snow.
The girl never came to make the train go.

The lights didn’t light and no music was played.
With the town all in silence the man was dismayed.
He walked to the square in the center of town.
Just to find it all empty, no one around.

So the very next day, well he waited again.
He waited outside until quarter past ten.
And he waited some more as he held back his tears.
While weeks turned to months and months turned to years.

Now with nobody making it snow everyday.
The globe it got dusty, covered in gray.
He figured the girl would never come back.
The dust on the glass became grayer, then black.

The snow, it stopped falling for many a year.
That music he knew he would no longer hear.
And that train that would circle his town now and then.
Was stopped in its tracks right where it had been.

Then one Christmas morning, the man felt a small rumble.
He heard very faintly a female voice mumble.
And he watched as the glass was wiped away clean.
He watched as the globe regained its old sheen.

Then he peered out the glass and who did he see?
T’was the girl, all grown up, with a boy about three.
She picked up the globe and the winder she wound.
The music, it played and the train drove around.

She shook the globe hard and the snow began snowing.
The sleet began sleeting and the wind began blowing.
And the townspeople quickly ran to the town square.
Where the tree with its lights was still standing there.

The girl turned to her son and she said with a smile.
“Here’s a present for you to keep for a while.”
“If you wind up this winder you’ll start the train going”
“The music will play and the snow will start snowing.”

She handed it over and the little boy smiled.
She said “it used to be mine when I was a child.”
When the boy took the globe, his eyes lit up with glee.
Like the center of town, lit up by the tree.

When the boy shook the globe it snowed harder than ever.
And the man, well he hoped it would go on forever.
Because although it was cold, he knew as a whole.
A snow storm on Christmas always cleanses the soul.

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