01/16/02
Snow
    by Kevin Shortsleeve

Children have a special relationship to snow. Perhaps there is something in the unpredictability of snowfall or its intangible magical qualities that children relate to. Like children, snow can be alternately perceived as carefree, giddy, peaceful, maddening and laughable. For an adult, waking up and discovering an unexpected snowfall in the night can create a simple inner joy - a quiet vibrance - that is not unlike the feeling of looking into the face of a sleeping child.

Perhaps the most well known children's book about snow is Ezra Keats, The Snowy Day. Winner of the prestigious Caldecott Medal, The Snowy Day celebrates the sheer wonder of a young boy experiencing and exploring the alien world of his first big snowfall.

The folklore of childhood is populated by snowbound beings. Jack Frost, The Snow Queen, Frosty the Snowman, The Abombinal Snowman, and in Russia, old Grandfather Frost and his granddaughter Snowflake, a Pinocchio like child who was made of snow and came to life.

Snowfall can be all about production. For a child, the whimsical substance is not unlike Play Doe from the sky, and children industriously shape it into anything from snow forts, to snow men, snow angels and, of course - that most preferred projectile of childhood - snowballs. And while some children, like the Charlie Brown gang, are content to stand about tasting snowflakes and arguing about which taste better, December or January's, many children breathlessly engage in impromptu sledding excursions. Snowfall elicits all forms of creativity - and for the future entrepreneur, every unshovelled driveway is a goldmine just waiting to be cleared.

As a child in Boston, I remember many nights staring out at the swirling flakes, the only light in my room was from the radio dial - as I impatiently waited for the school cancellation list. In 1978, us Boston kids hit the jackpot. In some areas more than four feet of snow fell in two days. My school was cancelled for more than three weeks. It was the winter carnival to end all carnivals. Parents couldn't even go to work. They had to stay home and play - just like the kids.

Snow can represent a latent veiled potential. When we look at snow there is no surer promise that spring - and growth - must be coming next. Snow then, like childhood, can be all about expectation. And like children, it is said that no two snowflakes are exactly alike.

Copyright 2002 by Kevin Shortsleeve

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Wednesday, 04-Sep-2002 22:21:33 EDT


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