Winter wonderland magic escapes adults

Winter affects different people differently. Those who ice-fish and snowmobile regard winter in a different, less frosty light than those who own livestock, heat with wood, have long driveways to clear, or substantial commutes to work. Well, at least I don’t own livestock.

Winter weather responses also vary within families. While I’m turning my collar to the cold and damp, shoveling the new snowfall away from the back door, my children are clamoring to get outside and wrangle with Old Man Winter.

Normally, they awaken in the AM with the enthusiasm of a death row inmate on his final morn. No amount of enticement can make them want to shake hands with the day. But that changes when I go upstairs at 5:15 AM and whisper this special magic phrase: SNOW DAY.

A flurry of activity ensues, beginning with praise to the snow gods. “Thank you for answering our prayers and delivering us from the evil of school,” they say, oblivious to the driving and financial (extra day care costs) peril the snowstorm has cast upon their mother.

My winter penance unfurls. I can look forward to more tracked-in snow, wet winter gear to dry, and runny noses to wipe. I’d better be well-stocked with hot cocoa, the requisite kiddie beverage of winter. And don’t even think of running out of marshmallows!

While my kids gauge the packability of the snow, outline snow fort floor plans, and argue the proper snowball diameter for the base of their snowman, I contemplate how much earlier I need to leave to arrive less late at work and devise strategies to avoid getting stuck in the daycare driveway.

Recriminations abound. Why don’t I own a four-wheel drive vehicle? Why do I work so far from home? Why don’t I have a garage? Why didn’t I buy more gas for the snowblower? Why does our long-haired dog always walk in the path of the snowblower spray? Why don’t I just hire someone to plow? And finally, why do we live in Michigan?

I stop grousing and fire up the snowblower. It’s getting late: 5:45 AM. The kids retreat inside to watch a movie. I make multiple passes around the driveway and mailbox area. The snowblower’s running steadily, as is my nose. An incredible amount of snot is generated. My husband says that’s why men have beards. Perish the thought!

I finish in 70 minutes and head for the house. The kids have locked me out. I pound on the door of the enclosed porch, yell at the top of my lungs, and ring the doorbell. They can’t hear me, but I can hear the TV blaring. I wade through a 24-inch backyard drift in my 12-inch high boots and pound on the window of the TV room, startling them. Good.

Of course they’re still in pajamas versus getting dressed. And they haven’t eaten their cereal. I hustle us ready and drop them in the roadway at daycare to avoid the dreaded driveway.

I finally get out on the highway, only to discover my windshield washers aren’t working. I pull onto the shoulder of I-94, get out and get sprayed with the slush from multiple 18-wheelers. I crawl up on the hood of my car, put my mouth over the left spray nozzle and inhale, as if sucking venom from a snakebite. I regret having worn a skirt.

Despite my efforts, I’m still not tasting washer solvent. I pop the hood. There’s no washer fluid. How can that be? I just added some just last . . . . fall. I use a handful of snow to wipe the grime from my windshield. I stop every few miles, repeating the death-defying process. Then I become savvy and intentionally align myself with the spray off the trucks that pass, using it to wet my windshield. Whatever works.

Something’s up with my left wiper. It won’t straighten up and fly right. While examining it in the parking lot after work, it flies clean off. Not good. I eventually snap it back in, but upside down. Numb fingers keep trying until they succeed. One less worry as I creep back down the highway toward home. Winter wonderland, my butt.

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