The first snow comes in stages
One dark afternoon you notice a few lazy flakes in the air. They melt before they hit the ground. “It’s snowing,” you shout. Everyone looks out the window. “Well, look at that,” they say. But mostly just the small children are enthusiastic about this “first snow.” They ask if they might be able to build a snowman. This is stage one of the first snow.
The second kind of first snow is the kind that sticks. We wake up one morning and the room is brighter… something has changed. We look out the window to see a blanket of white. For some people this is the real “first snow.”
This year, the first sticking snow came to my neck of the river valley on October 18. The little kids put on their coats and boots and hats and gloves. They danced and stomped around in the new snow and asked if they could go sledding yet. But the ground was warm and the roads were salted, so this first snow melted quickly.
Driving home from work on Monday morning I encountered our first snow banks—more like snow knobs at the side of the road—left over from the brief squall late Sunday night. There were reports of accidents and cars off the road as people learned or remembered how to drive in the snow. (This is a raw and abrupt start to winter.) The morning was windy. A squirrel scampered across the road, but it looked more as if it were tumbling like an inside-out umbrella. The whispery lines of snow my husband calls “trucker’s bones” undulated across the road. This is the snow that makes you realize that if you don’t have snow tires yet, it is time to go get some. The little kids, upon observing the snow banks, ask if it is time to make snowballs yet.
Some people wait for the first full-blown storm of the season to designate the first snow. That is what’s in the forecast at the time of this writing, on Thursday, November 15. Schools have dismissed early. Varying reports predict anywhere between three to 12 inches across the region, with periods of sleet and freezing rain. Doppler radar shows the ugly mess moving steadily toward us. And now the little kids are asking if they will have school tomorrow.
I suspect they will be off and will quite possibly have the opportunity to fulfill all their other requests for snowmen and sledding and snowball fights.
For most of us, it takes a while to get used to the idea of winter. It takes time to reconcile to bad roads and cancellations. It takes time to remember all the extra trappings of winter like boots and hats and gloves. I, myself, resist the winter coat until the last possible day.
Think about it. The gradual phases of the first snow are like having a baby. After all, you get nine months to prepare and get used to the idea of the drastic change about to take effect in your life. On a smaller scale, of course, the stages of the first snow prepare you for winter.
And so it starts. Best wishes to all for a safe and healthy winter season. Don’t forget to make a snowman or two.