recess radio program

First Snow, Magic Snow
    by John Cech

It's the first day of winter today, the time of the Winter Solstice, the ancient days of Yule, the darkest night of the year. It's also the perfect time for the first snow to fall. In Russian villages, they collected (and still collect) the snow from the first snowfall, melted it and had it blessed; they used this snow water in medicines and as a balm. My Russian mother-in-law had been cured of headaches as a child by a gypsy woman who placed a compress, dipped in this holy snow water on her head, and sang gently to her all night. Throughout her life, even when she was transplanted to Chicago, my mother-in-law would faithfully gather this first snow like something priceless, have it blessed, and bring flasks of it to Florida, where she spent most of the winter with us. She placed a drop or two of this snow water each morning on her failing eyes. Our young daughter watched her do this with wonder -- well, actually, we all did -- and, if we lived in a place where it snowed at all, we'd be saving up jars of this elixir today, I'm sure, helping the old ways to live on, in our own and our children's lives -- through the things we carry forward from these wise teachers of the imagination. So, in lieu of snowflakes, here's a poem in my mother-in-law, Feodosia's, memory -- for the beginning of this season.

The first snow of winter:
We ran outside to play,
And made a hundred angels
In the drifts that day.
The first snow is magic,
I heard my grandma say.
And in the night it happened
The hundred angels flew away.
I know because I watched them
As one by one they rose
Up in the quiet moonlight
In their snowy clothes.
The hundred angels gathered
Up in the sky that night,
And made a giant snowflake
In their stary flight.
Next morning all the snowbanks
Were smooth and soft and white
Because our hundred angels
Had swept them overnight.

Copyright 2005 John Cech

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Thursday, 01-Dec-2005 14:38:05 EST

"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."