Published in the Rutland County Express on Jan. 19, 2012.
The sun is out. The sky is blue. And it’s cold. (Darn cold!) On the plus side, snow is on the ground. Last week brought us the first snow of 2012 — and one of the more significant snowfalls of the season. Finally, it feels like winter is here.
In the past, I’ve celebrated stick season — the gray sparseness of nature in the time between foliage and the first snowfall is uniquely beautiful in its own quiet, lonely way.
But enough is enough. It’s mid-January and snow is long overdue.
The folks up in Killington and every other Vermont mountain have been doing the snow dance for weeks now and it looks like it’s finally paid off. Back-to-back storms, which while not major in accumulation, have provided enough white stuff to add a layer of fresh powder to the trails and a couple inches in the valleys to entice the tourists.
And snow is not just good for business; it’s good for our sanity. Cabin fever is only worsened when the weather is cold, rainy and entirely inhospitable for any kind of outdoor activity. With snow, you can ski and ride, go snowshoeing and sledding or just get outside and enjoy the fresh air.
As the snow fell last Friday night in downtown Rutland, people’s giddiness could hardly be contained. Plans for getting first tracks the following morning took shape. Exalted talk of “powder” awakened a welcomeness for winter that has been heretofore absent this season.
In The Pit, several Castle-ton College students out on the town paused to slide down the hill on conveniently available discs. The short runs were punctuated by increasingly daring stunts and hearty laughter — as if to say, “Finally! The snow is here. Let’s party.”
The next morning, families braved the 17-degree cold at Hillside Road’s Church Hill as kids and parents alike bombed down the slope, joining in a tradition that Rutlanders have enjoyed for decades.
What is it about snow that makes everyone act like a kid again? No matter who you are, or how old, that irresistible urge to play in the snow is undeniable. It’s nostalgia — it takes us back and allows us to let go, even for just a moment. (I wonder if there’s an analogous feeling for people who live in warmer climates. The beach, maybe?)
Sure, as we grow older, we channel this excitement into more structured activities like winter sports, but no one can deny the pure joy of jumping in a snow bank, making a snow angel or whipping a snowball at your sister.
It never goes away.