Friday, December 7, 2007

The White Stuff!

*Qick note - sorry about the awful spelling! The spell checker isn't working, and I don't have time to really play around with this computer and make sure my work is up to parr. But that's okay. You get to see my "creative" spelling. Enjoy!*

Last night as Nathaniel and I descended through the clouds, we both craned our necks out of the airplane window to catch a glimpse of the ground below. We waited. And waited. And waited some more. Our anticipation grew. Still, no ground. But we were still descending. The captain had already made his announcement over the airplane PA system (whatever it's called!), and we were making our final approach into the Hubert Humphrey Terminal. Wonderful!

We were so close, yet couldn't see a darned thing.

The airplane lurched a little more, and Nathaniel gleefuly looked around. I gripped my seat handles, not being the best flier myself. I just don't like airplanes. Somthing about being stuck in a tube at 30,000 feet just isn't all that appealing. Well, no, I take that back. I don't like the taking off and landing. At least with the landing part, you're mostly safe and the trip is over. The takeoff is a different story. There you are, strapped to your set, a plane full of flamable fuel, engines whirring away, hurtling at 140 mph down a runway. There's so much that can go wrong! I read somewhere that the first 5 minutes and last 5 minutes are the most dangerous part of flight.

Here's an idea: don't fly.

Ah - but I wish it were that simple. Besides, my husband is a pilot. So rationally, I know that I'm safer in a plane than I am in a car. But I don't usually go 140 mph in my car, and rarely has my car ever been airborn. Solid ground is fine for me, thanks.

But that's aside from the point.

As the plane bounded and lurched - an affect from getting closer to the ground - Nathaniel smiled and kept looking out the window. He looked as though Christmas had come early, and couldn't wait to get started opening presents. Lucky guy. Well, he's the pilot, not me. I'll take flight on my bike or while running any day, thank you very much.

Finally, after a particularily nasty lurch, our plane broke free from the cloud cover. And we were soaring 1200 feet above the ground.

The snow covered ground!


There was WHITE STUFF everywhere!

Don't get me wrong. I grew up in Minnesota, on a heathly diet of winter, snow, and ice. One of my Dad's favorite terms to use is "Glare Ice".

"Be careful out there, the steps are glare ice!"

"The roadway is slippery, covered in glare ice."

I know all about snow, ice, sleet, slush, flurries, wind, driving pellets of frozen rain, and any kind of wintery weather that accompanies it.

Whenever it snowed when I was little, Karnya and I would go romping in it, building snowmen, sledding, lobbing a few snowballs at each other for good meaure... As I got older, I still continued to enjoy the snow. The first snowfall was always magical, and I would sit at the window, mesmorized for hours, watching it gently fall.

While growing up, winter became a rite of passage. We always skiied, we always ran around outside, we always got used to the feeling of our nostrils sticking to the inside of our noses as we inhaled the cold air. It was just inateley a part of who we were and what we did. Winter was a time for skiing, reading infront of the fireplace, drinking hot cocoa or hot apple cider, savory stews, wonderous snowfall, and an enjoyment of the season. I never imagined a life without winter, a life without snow. But times have changed, I've grown up (a little), and my life took an unexpected direction when I married Nathaniel. (Not that I'm not happy - I'm thrilled! How many people get to say they married their best friend, best supporter, someone who swept them off their feet and is still going? I do.)

But alas, because Nathaniel and I have lived in North Carolina and now Florida, rarely have we been able to enjoy winter's full wonders. Yes, it gets a bit "cold" (The high today in Penscola is a mere 70 degrees. The forecasted high for St. Paul, on the other hand, is a balmy 15. Go figure) - but nothing like up North. Up in Minnesota or Wisconsin, where these memories were shaped, where we grew up loving the cold, winter, and snow.

For the past two years when I've visited, there has hardly been any snow on the ground. The grass was dry, brittle, and browned from the frigid air. But no snow. It seemed naked, or stripped, as though nature herself was waiting for the start of winter and the unleashing of flurries. But the dry spell continued, and Minnesotans recieved only a few minor dustings. Not much, when you're hoping to romp and play. But enough to make things a bit more beautiful than the drab browns and greys.

And while its been great visiting my parents in Minnesota, and Nathaniel's family in Wisconsin - each and every time I've come away a little sad, because I didn't get to experience the snow that I so deeply loved.

It just doesen't seem like winter without snow.

Last night as we broke through the clouds, I was gripping my seat handle. If the plane crashed, so be it. Just make it quick and hopefully painless. Another lurch, and I though of all the smart people who drove cars or took trains. Fliying is unnatural. Do you realize that the air mass that's holding the airplane in the sky, is no thicker than a single card? Not a deck of cards, but a sngle playing card. Lookes like the joker, or joke was on me. And knowledge isn't always power. What you DON'T know won't always hurt you. (By the way, helicopters are even more unnatural, as they, according to Nathaniel, "beat the air into submission." How would YOU like it if your pilot came onto the plane's PA and talked about the airplane beating the air itno submission. I'd respond with, "You're nuts. Get me OFF this plane!" Different story, alltogether, though). So back to the flying - I'm not a fan of it.

But then, Nathaniel told me to look out the window.

And I'm happy I did.

For down below, I could see rows of houses, glowing streetlights, and the slow movement of car headlights. But I noticed very little about any of them. Instead my eyes were drawn towards the white blanket that covered it all. SNOW!

It was everywhere. Covering house tops, roads, yards, lakes - everything within sight as our plane coasted lower and lower. On the final approach, I could even make out snow in the streets, where car tires had not yet tread.

It was wonderful, and I hardly noticd the triple bumps as the airplane tires touched down. I was so enraptured by the wonders of the snow. It looked like a real winterwonderland.

After the captain indicated we could turn on or "electrical devices as long as they were within reach while remaining seated, with our seatbelts fastened", I grabbed my cellphone. I punched in my Mom's number, and waited anxiously while it rang. The voice mail picked up! DARN! I wanted to yell at her to "Look at the SNOW!"

Just as her voicemail was about to BEEP!, I recieved an incomming call, and quickly switched over. It was my Mom anyway, probably unable to reach her phone intime to get my call. I pressed "accept" and practically yelled into the phone (to the great dismay of my fellow passengers):


I don't remember much of the conversation, but it probably went along the usual lines of "we'll pick you up here, meet you there, etc, etc."

Looking out the windows of the plane, I felt as though I was finally home. No bare ground, no brown grass poking through. It had been instead, replaced by a thick blanket of snow.

Last night, after a dinner of sushi, lots of great conversation and drinks with my Mom, Dad, Karyna, and Nathaniel, I reveled in the fact that I was actually home. It was wonderful.

I know that I'm here for my Grandmother's funeral, and that it's very sad. But she would have wanted me to be happy, to watch my romp through the snow, to make bunny hop motions with my feet (something I still do. Put my heels together and hop through the freshly made snow, leaving really big bunny-like footprints), to enjoy the splendors of winter, and reminise about winter's past.

While I was reading in bed, late into the night, I happened to glance out the window. Nathaniel was asleep next to me, and the house was quite. I loved the stillness, the quite. The windows all around us revealed winter and her full splendor. The pine trees were draped in snow, heavy and thick so that the edges of the branches swept gently to the bottom of the ground. Other trees had a few inches resting on their bare brances. The sky was bright, undoubtedly reflecting the snow on the ground. The stillness was magical, the promise of more snow on the way.

I was home at last, surrounded by the snow that helped shape the person I am today. Incredible, it was. It is.

I'm looking forward to going for my run, to hearing the squeaky crunch of the hard packed snow under my running shoes.Nathaniel has alread been outside today, volunteering to "shovel the walk." (It was already done). I think he just wanted an excuse to go outside. Enjoy it, he did. For me, well, after my run, I'll put my heels together, and hop through the snow, making my big bunny tracks. It'll be great. And I can't wait.

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