Being from upstate New York, I have many fond memories of snow days. Last week, we had the first big snow of the year and Sprout’s first chance as a toddler to experience it. While he’s been in the snow before, he was barely crawling at the time. My in-laws bought him a snowsuit for Christmas, so we were eager to try it out. Plus, he really loves the books The Snowy Day, about a little boy wandering around the city after a snowstorm, and A Snow Day for Hannah, about a dog playing in the snow. With me working from home due to the weather and having my lunch hour free, it added up to a perfect time to wander around in the snow.
It didn’t start out auspiciously. He absolutely, positively did not want to put on his snow boots. He screamed and kicked like a banshee, fighting the new, bulky, restrictive clothing. At least the very good hood on his new coat meant that we didn’t have to put on a hat on him.
As soon as we opened the door, the whining halted. Sprout gazed out on the white expanse and slowly stepped outside. We carried him over the icy steps and placed him on the lawn – where he immediately started crying again. I tried to show him how to walk on it and even made a snow angel. He just looked at me and frowned. He obviously thought the snow was interesting, so we brainstormed to figure out what exactly was wrong. We realized two things: one, he was still uncomfortable in his clothing, which we couldn’t do much about and two, he was having difficulty walking in the snow, which we could help with. As soon as I offered my hand to him to hold, he grasped it and smiled.
Holding his mittened hand in mine, we explored this new world. I pointed out the animal tracks patterned across our yard, explaining that they were made by a cat. We trundled up the little hill behind our house and back around to the front door, Sprout working hard. He’s so short that he dragged his feet in even the few inches of dry snow, his boots making long, thin lines alongside my crisp larger footprints.
When we looped around the yard, I thought we were going to head inside, but Sprout kept pulling me towards the road. I picked him up and we crossed the street to the cleared sidewalk on the other side. I still held his hand, but he seemed much more comfortable walking on a firm surface, rather than a crunchy, unsettled ground. As we walked, we looked up at the trees, snow frosting the bare branches. The squawking of a large black crow kept attracting Sprout’s attention, although I don’t know if he could quite see what it was, outlined as it was against the bright sky.
We walked down the sidewalk, until I couldn’t stand my feet becoming any colder or number. While I thought Sprout understood we were going inside, apparently he wasn’t paying attention. The moment we closed the door, he started crying again. Even though he wasn’t fond of the clothing or the feeling of the snow under his feet, he really did enjoy being outside.
He promptly forgave us when we introduced the last element of our adventure, one of the best simple pleasures in life – hot chocolate. His reaction was a little like that of the characters in the Hunger Games – surprise, then wonder, followed by pure pleasure. Chris gave him the warm liquid in his sippy cup, so he was expecting milk. Once he realized that it was so much better than milk, he drank it almost without stopping, only pausing to breathe. Next time I drink hot chocolate, I’ll have to stop and savor it like he did.
Like the boy in The Snowy Day and Hannah the mountain dog, I’m glad that Sprout can appreciate the adventure in the wonder of a snow day.