As I write this, eastern Long Island is expected to be hit with over 18 inches of snow in a northeast this weekend. My neighbors must hear my cries of joy echoing in the garden.
Maybe because I was born in a blizzard on a dark, cold December night, just a week before Christmas, I’ve always loved snow. While most kids have a birthday wish list, mine only had one: snow.
One of my favorite snow memories is the game my sisters and I played outside in the snow. It was called “the fox and the goose”. Our front yard has become a maze of pathways with a “den” formed in the center. The person playing the fox chases the geese until they tag each goose and place it in the den.
We usually created the maze with shuffling feet and shovels during the day, but played it after dark to add interest to the chase. The game was over when all the geese were caught or our faces were frozen from the driving snow.
Making a snow fort was another fun snow day activity.
Merging two favorite seasons, we used beach buckets and plastic shovels to form the walls by piling them up and filling the gaps with freshly packed snow. At night, we poured water on the structure to harden it.
As number seven of eight children, I imagined the snow fort to be my own little apartment where I could live independently like my older siblings who lived away from home. In my snow fortress, I imagined myself as an explorer seeking protection from the perils of a blizzard or a mother protecting her young children when they were caught outside in a winter storm.
One of my favorite winter reads for kids is a book called “Snowflake Bentley” by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. It’s about a Vermont farmer named Wilson A. Bentley who has spent his life studying and photographing snow.
Bentley was homeschooled by his mother, a teacher who instilled in her son a love of learning. From an early age, Bentley was fascinated by snow. In his early experiments, Bentley collected snow to study under a microscope.
Although his father thought he was crazy wasting his time studying something that melts, Bentley’s parents later bought him an expensive microscope camera with money they had saved up over the years. working on their dairy farm. The camera could magnify the images of the snow crystals.
On January 15, 1885, Wilson Bentley became the first person to photograph a snow crystal. His parents’ investment proved a huge return for generations of students and scientists who still use Bentley’s snow crystal research today.
My kids and I spent many snowy days reading about Snowflake Bentley and capturing snow on black construction paper to examine the flakes under a magnifying glass and microscope. Every snowfall meant a snowy day in our homeschool. There was enough science, reading, and math in a winter storm to qualify as college. Besides the fact that a snowstorm is just plain fun.
In an article titled “Beautiful Snows” Bentley wrote, “Here is a jewel-studded realm of nature possessing the charm of mystery, of the unknown, sure to reward the inquirer.”
Bentley was as much the poet as the scientist as he reflected in wonder at the wonder of the natural world around him – especially in the snow.
It is this “charm of the mystery, of the unknown”, written by Bentley, that most compels my own love for snow. When I consider the intricacies of each snowflake, I see the inherent echo of master craftsmanship and clever design, especially in the fact that no two snowflakes are the same. Isn’t nature amazing?
It is this spiritual nature of snow that appeals to me the most.
Snow envelops the world in a calm that silences our hectic lives and rambling brains and soothes our souls. It blankets the earth on a dull winter day with the purity of fresh white snow inviting us to calm.
Here at Jo’s Farm we have spent the sunny days this week preparing for the big snow. I loaded up the chicken feeder which holds 65 pounds of feed and did my weekend chores to clean the coop and run a few days early. We have heated waterers in the barn and in the goat house that work with heavy-duty extension cords plugged into an outside electrical source. God knew when we bought this house that we would need to power some things in the garden.
The hens really don’t like snow, but their coop and pen are protected from the wind and warm even when the sun is shining because we winterized them with corrugated plastic surrounding the walls and roof of the pen.
A chicken’s body temperature is around 105 degrees. They can stay warm as long as they are protected from drafts. I threw extra shavings and chopped hay in the coop to help the chickens stay warm.
I used to place the shavings neatly arranged in the chicken coop. But nearly two years into this backyard adventure, the hens have made it clear that they want to rearrange their little house to suit their needs and preferences. So now I just throw the bedding in mounds for the ladies to work on as they please.
Goats are very hardy animals as long as they are sheltered from the storm. We put in extra hay, feed and water and make sure they are safe in their shed when the storm gets violent.
This morning, I took Jo for an MRI of her brain. It really doesn’t get any easier, but we get better at doing the things we need to do, remembering that life is fragile and therefore needs to be cherished.
When we left the radiology center, Jo was tired and suffering from headaches and fatigue. But after putting her in the car, I reminded Jo that she still had an important job to do to prepare for the big storm.
Jo had to deliver fresh eggs to friends and neighbors who wanted Jo’s eggs to eat while they weathered the storm back home. Jo perked up as we talked about the people and animals who need her to do her best.
Jo’s smile delivering eggs to all her customers is worth all the effort put into Jo’s farm.
I tucked all the animals to bed as night fell and accompanied Jo to wait for the storm to come. With the snow comes a calm that settles over us, and even in our souls. The world around us slows down to our pace, giving us time to breathe and enjoy the calm of Jo’s farm.
Support local journalism.
Now more than ever, the survival of quality local journalism depends on your support. Our community is facing unprecedented economic disruption and the future of many small businesses is at risk, including ours. It takes time and resources to provide this service. We are a small family business and we will do everything in our power to keep it going. But now more than ever, we will depend on your support to continue. Support RiverheadLOCAL today. You rely on us to stay informed and we rely on you to make our work possible.