Snow Lessons

December 14, 2008

Snow in downtown Portland is rare and scant enough to incite giddiness. Decades ago, however, blizzards buried the city. Doing historical research, I’ve come across microfilmed newspaper clippings from early in the last century that describe snowfall measured in feet, not inches. In some instances, the city was so paralyzed that food shortages occurred.

What arrived this morning may inconvenience some people but delights me. Not just the visual serenity but the joy in my little boy’s voice: “Daddy, it’s winter!” Or, “Daddy, snowflakes landed on my tongue!” Snowballs and a snowman are on the afternoon’s agenda.

The sound of snow scrunching beneath my feet triggers early childhood memories of New Hampshire. We lived on the edge of town. Across the street was a treed hill ideal for sledding. Behind our house, a tributary of the Nashua River created a woodsy skating rink. But the most fun my two brothers and I may have had was peeing in the snow. I was old enough to write my name.

Isn’t it a father’s duty to pass along life’s vital lessons to his son?