Nineteen years ago, we made a move that would change my life, or at least my perspective of it. A new job uprooted our family tree, transporting us from southeast Tennessee and planting us in the middle of Grosse Pointe, Michigan (just outside of Detroit).
It was January of 1994 and it was cold. I remember being cold all of the time, in fact. A foot or more of snow carpeted the ground and it didn't go anywhere. This southern belle's experience with snow was limited. If we got the white stuff in the south, there were never more than a few inches at a time, and it melted quickly. Snowstorms back then, while debilitating (they shut down everything), were brief.
My less than subtle introduction to a true winter was miserable for me. I always thought if I'd gradually been introduced to the effects of snow, then I would have felt differently at the time, perhaps learning to like it more quickly. But I was plucked from a no-coat winter, and plopped into the "frozen tundra" within a forty-eight hour time frame. It immediately became my life and there was no going back.
Most of the side effects were physical. I shivered all of the time and my feet were constantly cold. Often, after being outside, I would sit on the edge of the bathtub, soaking my feet in warm water to get relief from the numbness. Slipping on an icy sidewalk didn't help things. Hurting my back in the fall caused pain, limited my mobility and intensified the feelings that were festering inside me about northern winters. I hated them. Those emotions wrecked havoc on everything else. Dread and gloom filled my head at the thought of ever having to step outdoors. I wanted to hole up in my house and nest until spring.
Slowly, things began to change. One of the best memories I have of living in that community during the winter months involved sound. The fire department would hose down the local tennis courts, creating an ice rink for the residents to enjoy. At night, it was easy to hear the clink of skates on ice as kids laughed and played hockey under the tennis court lights. I thought it the neatest sound and it was completely foreign to me. Ice skating and hockey weren't southern sports.
That sound and the sight of those kids generated something in me. My eyes began to open. Perhaps attending some Detroit Red Wings games helped. It was during the Steve Yzerman era and I got caught up in the excitement and fun of just watching the games, even if I never understood the significance of the octopus toss. And to embrace Detroit hockey meant welcoming snow and winter in its full glory. I eventually did.
I learned what everyone else had to learn...how to dress for the weather and how to drive in it. Life went on regardless of the temperature outside. Now, I can say with all honesty, I love snow. It's difficult to remember winters without it. Seeing snow fall is one of nature's most beautiful offerings and winter holidays seem enhanced by it.
Looking back, I wasn't the only one in my family exasperated by snow. My younger daughter, just about to turn three at the time, wasn't happy one day when walking through a parking lot to our car. It had started to snow heavily and, out of sheer frustration, she cried, "What are these things?" I replied to her that it was called snow. Her response? "Well, it's getting in my eyes!"
I found a little rhyming poem I wrote about that day. I've never claimed to be a poet, so please don't be too harsh. It's just a sentimental piece I'm sharing about the time and my child. As always, copyright applies (©Veronica Randolph Batterson ).
Well, It’s Getting in My Eyes
By Veronica Randolph Batterson
A child of three moved far away
Where heavy coats and mittens were needed to play.
Outside it was blustery, cold and wet.
“Who played in weather like this?” her mommy would fret.
They came from a place that is warm and sunny,
Here all the children looked kind of funny.
They were bundled and covered, not a visible face
Resembling monsters, aliens and things from outer space.
They wobbled and hobbled, barely able to walk
No words were spoken, they were too cold to talk.
Shivering and covered head to toe
They played and made snow angels in the fresh snow.
So this young child while outdoors one day
Looked up at the falling snow to say,
“What are these things dropping from the skies?”
“It’s snow, honey,” her mommy said.
“Well, it’s getting in my eyes!”
©Veronica Randolph Batterson