On Winter Storms

snowThe snow swirls, flakes drifting lazily from a storm-darkened sky. I must admit this is somewhat anticlimactic; yesterday, they were predicting doom and gloom, telling us that certainly the end was coming, that we would all be confined to our homes as the world turned white. There will be piles of snow, they told us, blizzard conditions.  Entire airports shut down, entire cities brought to a standstill, states of emergency declared before the first flakes even fell.

Here, at least, their predictions fell flat. I sit in a home in rural Vermont, admiring the purity of the snow on the trees – the trees I wasn’t supposed to be able to see because of the (nonexistent) gale force winds. The plow has been by several times already and there is a thin sheen of ice and snow on the road, but if the garbage truck was able to make its rounds this morning during the supposed peak of the storm, I have little doubt our rented SUV will safely shuttle us from here when it is time to leave.

The timing of this particular storm leaves something to be desired, just as its potency does; we are at the tail-end of a partial family gathering. True, we gathered in this time and this place for the express purpose of playing in the snow, came here so that four little boys who live in sunny southern California and had long been promised a trip to the Northeast might experience winter, might know what it’s like to throw snowballs and build snow forts and steer a sled down a snowy slope. But there was plenty of the white stuff on the ground when we arrived and we were scheduled to fly home tomorrow and the doom and gloom forecast has thrown a wrench in our plans. Had it come two days earlier, or even one, it would have been pure adventure, but as it stands now, it’s simply inconvenient.

Or it’s inconvenient for the adults, anyway. For the kids, the blizzard is inconvenient only in the lack of snow and whiteout conditions it brought, in its utter failure to deliver on the promises dire warnings issued by the National Weather Service. The kids stare out the window in wonder, watching the drifts build up, excited about the adventure of it all. They don’t care about missed work, or cancelled flights, or icy roads. They don’t have to waste precious minutes of their lives waiting, listening to hold music, only to reach a harried and ineffectual customer service agent. They have no concerns about rental cars or hotel rooms. Our changed itinerary brings no stress, only joy; it means our vacation is extended for another day, one more day of fun and rest before heading back to real life, to school and homework and chores.

And as I watch them, as I see their excitement build on pace with my annoyance, it occurs that this might be part of what it means to become like little children: to find the joy, the fun, the wonder in life and none of the annoyance. To live in this moment, right now, soaking in its gifts and its mysteries without dwelling on those future things I cannot change.

Today, this moment, I have a choice. I can choose stress and annoyance and frustration and miss the beauty of the drifting snow, miss the joy of being with family. I can choose to focus on the disruption to my plans and miss good conversation and baby smiles and toddler giggles. I can choose to allow the negative emotions to build inside of me and miss the fact that this time is one of sweet memories, one that we will recall fondly, hiccups and all. I can choose.

The snow swirls, flakes drifting lazily from a storm-darkened sky, and today, as always, I have a choice.

I choose wonder.

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