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The Snow Opera


When we are expecting a blizzard or snowpocalypse, the news shows start to take over the airwaves, covering each snowflake as it falls from the sky. And it’s exciting! It’s as if we’re all in the middle of a soap opera, waiting for each new drama to pop up. It makes me feel important when what’s going on outside my window has made national news. It’s something like what would happen if aliens invaded the earth. The level of drama and rhetorical hysteria is pretty similar.

The subways have stopped!

Don’t leave your house!

All of the bread is gone!

It's snowing!!!!!

It’s snowing!!!!!

Mom’s favorite thing about snowy days is the opportunity to watch our neighbors through the blinds of the living room windows. We can see the maintenance guys plowing the parking lot with their little golf cart, and neighbors shoveling their cars out with what look like plastic beach shovels. There’s a lot of yelling, from the louder of the two maintenance men, because people dare to walk on the walkways before they’ve been shoveled and salted, or try to drive to work before the parking lot is completely cleaned.


Butterfly is flying!

Butterfly is flying!

Because Cricket is coming after her!

Because Cricket is coming after her!

Mom finds it all very entertaining. There was the night when one of our neighbors shoveled out her car, for hours, even though it was expected to snow two times as much over night and her car was buried again by morning. Then there’s the woman who thinks that as long as she bundles up, she should be able to walk to the library in any blizzard. Some of the men help with the shoveling. One even has a plow on the front of his pickup truck and helps out when they need him. Then there are the alcoholics. We don’t see much of them in the winter.

Cricket, dressed up for the snow party.

Cricket, dressed up for the snow party.

The first snow day of the season was exciting. The whole world was planning to shut down for a day or two, and mayors and governors were on the news, with dramatic sign language interpreter’s doing modern dance routines at their sides. Suddenly, I had to make chicken soup, and bread, and cookies. I wasn’t even that hungry, but it reminded me of weather events from my childhood, spent in the kitchen with my mother and brother, drinking hot cocoa after building an igloo on the front lawn. Of course the food outlasted the snow by days.

"Where's the rest of the snow?"

“Where’s the rest of the snow?”

I remember a book called Smilla’s Sense of Snow, a mystery, I think, but what I remembered most were all of the different words for snow in Smilla’s mother’s language. So far this winter there’s been: a heavy, wet snow that comes from a rain/snow mix, and makes each shovel full almost impossible to lift; there’s been icy rain that lands in hard pellets on my head and then creates black ice within seconds so I can’t figure out where to put my feet; there’s been soft, powdery snow; and snow that develops a hard crack surface, so that the dogs seem to be breaking pieces of candy with each step; we’ve had tall, hard piles of snow; and lacy, bumpy layers of ice; and then there’s the slush, where it feels like someone poured their sorbet onto the sidewalk and it’s turning into soup as I walk through it.

Cricket has discovered a wonderful new game this winter – it is the cat poop treasure hunt. One of the feral cats has taken to climbing onto the snow mountains in the backyard, pooping, and then burying the poop with a little extra pile of snow. Cricket, with her very effective sniffer, discovered the first of these magic pellets before I knew anything about it. She came in from a walk with Grandma, jumped up onto my bed to wake me up, and pawed my face with cat pooped paws. It certainly woke me up – and then shocked her, because she landed in the bathtub immediately, along with my bed linens and pajamas. She was horrified, and confused. Here she’d brought me this wonderful gift and I was angry? Why?

Hershey, placing the treasure.

Hershey, placing the treasure,

and burying it.

and burying it.

Each time we go outside now, I watch Cricket carefully, and if that nose gets too interested in one spot or another, yank goes the leash. She tries to jump up onto the snow mountains herself, and then falls down the side when her paws fail to grip. She’s tried to poop on top of the cat poop, but she doesn’t think to hide her poop, and anyway, I’m always watching, and ruining her fun, removing her poop before she can bury it and create her own treasure hunt for later.

Someone tossed birdseed onto the back lawn one day and then it snowed, just a dusting, and you could see hundreds of bird footsteps in the snow, and now Cricket can’t stop sniffing. Those little feet must smell good.

The most upsetting thing this winter has been when they’ve promised me a snowmageddon, and it ends up being a little bit of rain. Rain?! What happened to all of that promised snow? I feel bereft. Now what am I going to do for entertainment?

"What's next?"

“What’s next?”


Cricket Loves the Snow

Cricket loves snow!

Cricket loves snow!



            Cricket was waiting all winter for a good snow day. She loves to jump and trip and poop in the snow. She loves getting snowballs up and down her legs and watching me freak out and try to melt her in the sink. She loves watching me brush snow off the car while shovels full of snow fly over her head. She loves to eat snow and catch snow with her face. She even loves to slip and slide on the ice, though I do not.

One winter when we had huge piles of snow, she discovered the joy of climbing to the top of a hard packed snow mountain to poop from there. Even when the snow was deep and hard crackle topped, she climbed like a hiker with steel toed boots to deposit her treasure. She couldn’t care less that I had to follow her up there and dig through the snow with the poopie bag.

Butterfly had only experienced light snows of at most an inch so far, and she barely seemed to notice the change in temperature or texture of the ground. Until the blizzard.

The snow started Friday morning and the girls ran out to collect snow flakes on their tongues and in their hair. By late afternoon I was throwing snowballs for Cricket, because her sticks were already invisible under the snow. By the last pee trip of the day, I had to shovel us out of the house and Butterfly was struggling to move through the thickness while Cricket climbed to the top of the snow to deposit one last poop for the day.

Cricket and Butterfly in their snow poses.

Cricket and Butterfly in their snow poses.

When Butterfly woke me up Saturday morning she’d forgotten all about the weather. She was hopping and thumping her tail and twirling in her usual morning dance to get outside. The front door was tough to open because the snow had gathered on the porch and blocked the door. We pushed our way through and with Butterfly under my right arm and the shovel under my left arm I tried to make a path for us. Cricket ran ahead, but Butterfly and I fell into two feet of snow. I picked myself up, but Butterfly couldn’t move her short legs. She had to be air lifted, or Mommy lifted, out of the snow bank and back behind me while I shoveled us forward.

I did fifteen minute shifts of snow shoveling throughout the day, while the dogs ventured out with Grandma and barked at snow blowers and begged treats from neighbors. It took me until three o’clock in the afternoon to shovel the car out of its igloo and I was exhausted, but Cricket was ready for more adventure. She climbed and jumped and did a face plant into the snow. Butterfly got snow on her nose and compulsively tried to shake it off ten times.

We took a long, well deserved nap to recover from our day.

By Sunday morning, the snow had hardened and Cricket had mountains of rock-like snow to climb. She’s an explorer discovering new territory on every expedition. Butterfly watches her sister with awe, but prefers to search for new and exciting pee spots on the solid, flat ground.

I’m with her.

Butterfly is a bit befuddled