GUEST OPINION - Snowball state of mind

Thursday, December 6, 2001

On Monday, four children stood among the glistening white crystals of the first winter snow.

Gleaming smiles of joy, they lifted their feet out of the deepening snow to roll together three large snowballs. And after soliciting help to stack the balls, the first snowman of the season was born; His name was Bob.

I brushed the gentle snowflakes off my nose as I stood watching, gripping my pen ready to catch the children's names. But I soon found my mind wandering about winters past.

I looked at their smiles and remembered the joys of childhood winter - of snowball fights, snow days and snowmen. And I compared them to my reaction Monday morning when I saw the snow had fallen.

My first thought on seeing the snow was about my morning commute. I wondered about cars in ditches, cell phone batteries and snow boots.

But those four children probably had much happier prospects - a snow day and a snowman. Granted, they didn't need to worry about driving on icy roads or scooping driveways. They don't need to worry about a tighter pay check or about soon-to-be-needed snow tires or snow blowers. They were ready to enjoy winter.

I'm pretty sure there are several grown men and women in my new home community who were also celebrating this snow storm.

Why? Because snow means it's time to get out the snowmobiles, the ice skates and the fish houses.

Me? The snow meant that I'm finally in the Christmas Spirit. I'm ready to build a snowman of my own and I'm looking forward to the family's annual snowball fight. Yes, "annual" snowball fight. While I don't think my family has actually sanctioned these fights as an actual Christmas tradition, the fights have become an annual event anyway. We used to build snowmen together.

Maybe it says something for television violence or maybe we've "matured" out of snowmen and into snowball fights. But regardless of how it's come to be, it's a new tradition none-the-less.

The somber candlelight mood of a Christmas Eve service melts quickly when we arrive back at the house.

It's inevitable. The guys in the family start by throwing snowballs at each other, and somehow I usually end up with four or five snowballs down my coat. The fight ends with someone getting thrown in the snow. We laugh, we run and we act like children again for the evening, And it's one of my greatest winter memories.

So at the beginning of this winter season, I have decided to see the snow through the eyes of a child.

I've got plans to build a snowman this weekend and to lodge a couple white torpedoes at my husband. I'll spend a few nights this winter staring out the window, watching millions of beautiful snowflakes fall to the ground. And come Christmas, I'll start this year's snowball fight. And I'll smile - even when I'm the one who ends up in the snow.

Anitra Wolf, an Alta native, is the editor of the Pilot-Tribune's sister newspaper, the Dickinson County News, located in suddenly snowy Spirit Lake.