February 15, 2013 by JL Walker
After a recent snowstorm that brought snow to the East Coast and eventually Milano, I started thinking about the mega-snowstorms I experienced as a kid in upstate New York. This is how I remember one of those days.
I peeked through the curtains at our ticket to a free day of watching game shows, eating canned chicken noodle soup and reading paperbacks.
“Be good, kids.” Mom’s keys jangled as she shut the door.
“Come on down!” I put my empty bowl in the sink and licked the sickly-salt taste off my lips. Then I curled up with Lewis Carroll.
“That was Mom. She said to walk to the Hannons’. We’re gonna spend the night there because Mom and Dad are stuck at work.”
Snowpants: check. Snowboots: check. Mittens: check. Hat: check. Big coat: check.
The sun was a little yellow blob near the horizon. We had to lift our legs high to take each step. Just a few more to get to the road where the going was a little easier.
We were still warm in our layers in this clean and empty world, its harsh edges now smooth and rounded. All the usual holes were filled in, the mistakes in the landscape corrected.
I followed the steady, rhythmic crunch ahead of me, shiny red against powdery white underfoot. We kept on as the cold set in our extremities, it wasn’t much farther now. I could just make out the pine tree that marked the corner, its branches bending under all the extra weight.
He turned left at the tree, I followed. Then, another bit before turning right to climb the driveway. I was eager to get inside to warm up my chilled fingertips. I turned right in tandem, then looked behind at our two sets of tracks separated by two feet of unblemished emptiness.
And those two feet made all the difference. All at once my cadence changed. My boot didn’t hit the ground in the right spot and in another moment I went on down. “Ah!” And toppled down even more. Thud.
Down was up and up was down. I was in a downy but numbing embrace. I lay in the dark den for a minute.
Then I looked up at my big brother towering above me, his eyes sparkling at my predicament. I grabbed his hand and tumbled out of the ditch and onto higher ground.
The front door opened and we peeled off our soggy clothes.
We all settled down around the table. Through the blinds I could see my very own rabbit hole down the hill. Mrs. Hannon served her homemade chicken and dumplings and we dug in.