It’s January in Illinois. Where weather mimics NASCAR as changes in temperature, wind speed and cloud cover can go from zero to 100 in just seconds. Last week was thin wrap only. This week, you need to cover yourself in Yak fur to survive.
We had a snow fall two days ago. The beautiful, heavy white stuff that blankets everything and makes every yard, tree and rooftop look like a Christmas card. Nearby ski slopes put away their costly snow machines and commuters made certain their car was equipped with a broom and a full gas tank. Snowplows pushed their way up and down the streets in town, and highways and blacktops were cleared in good form. The salt trucks were busy as well, spreading the grains around and guaranteeing that my car will look two toned – red on top and white on the bottom.
School had been dismissed about a half hour before I drove home from visiting a friend the day it snowed. I took the long way around, checking out the trees and parks that were covered in Mother Nature’s latest bounty. While admiring the clean, crisp look of the neighborhoods, I realized something was missing. No snowmen, Anywhere! This was the perfect snow for building such creatures. Their various segments would be easy to roll and place together. A few sticks would give them arms, a couple of rocks some eyes and a carrot from the kitchen would complete that familiar look. But alas, I saw not a one as I perused the town.
In my day (I’m old so I say this) snowmen, snow forts and snow tunnels were not just works of art. They were a necessary part of childhood in the Midwest. Dressed in a mishmash of outer wear (no fancy brands or Kardashians to emulate) we braved the cold willingly and remained outside until our mothers insisted we come inside to thaw. Coats, hats, mittens and boots were draped over the radiators and registers to dry. If we were lucky, they would be dry enough for another trip outdoors. Even luckier if mom made us hot chocolate…
I suspect that now, kids are inside on their tablets and phones, or engaged in X-box games. Even with the availability of outerwear from Land’s End, Carhart and UGG, kids don’t play outside anymore. Images of snowmen (and snowwomen) might adorn the clothing now and are still a favorite for holiday cards. But they are gone from the landscape. So is much of childhood, I fear.
Frosty, you are missed. Please come back. The children need you.