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The transformative magic of snow

Welcome to off-topic Thursday – a little something to get you through the end of the week. Enjoy! 

When you are a child, there are few things more magical than snow. It has the power to transform the landscape, stop time, and make the whole world sparkle. Usual routines are pulled apart thread by thread until no shred of our ordinary day-to-day life remains. Gone are the structures of the workday and the school schedule. Gone are the usual rules and bedtimes. The outside world closes up shop and leaves us to our own devices.

When you are a child, snow turns the world into your playground. Where once there were only the familiar sights of your familiar world, there is now a vast, white expanse of possibilities. Like a blank canvas stretched out over real life, snow opens small imaginations to endless creations and adventures.

When you are a child, a snow bank becomes your noble charger, carrying you to battle on the field of war. It becomes a dragon, released from an icy spell and here to carry you into the cold, starry sky. It becomes a fort, a bunker, a castle, and the den of the mysterious ice bear – once king of the arctic, now a refugee who needs to be rescued and restored to his throne.

When you are a child, snow takes you back in time to a day when children ran amuck through the neighborhood. You meet in the streets to forge alliances and arrange expeditions. You trek up treacherous mountainsides, search for the legendary Yeti, and excavate frozen dinosaur bones. Sometimes, snow inspires creative domesticity and an afternoon is filled with the assembly and serving of snow sodas, pizzas, cupcakes, and stews.

When you are a grownup, there are few things more disruptive than snow. It changes plans, complicates your day, and adds dozens of items to your to-do list. It rips you away from your intentions, rerouting you according to Mother Nature’s whims and fancies. Gone are any extra minutes you might have had, filled now with hurried errands, last-minute preparations, and constant monitoring of the news and weather.

When you are a grownup, snow transforms your world into a dangerous obstacle course of closed roads, downed wires, and icy driving conditions. It cuts you off from the outside world and all its conveniences. It threatens to pluck you from the twenty-first century and deposit you in a past without electricity or modern communication devices.

When you are a grownup, snow is more of a bother than a wonder; but when you are a grownup with the eyes and heart of a child, snow still has the power to enchant. It quiets the world. Motors stop. Nature hushes. Even the voices in our heads cease their chattering. The usual expectations and obligations drop away as the flakes fall. For a little while, we are released from our regular responsibilities.

When you are a grownup with the imagination of a child, you can see snow’s reinvention of the world for what it is – a chance to step out of the ordinary into the fantastic, to experience delight, to contemplate the possibility of change. Even better, if you let your grownup imagination take flight, you may find that you don’t need the magic of snow to see the boundless opportunities you have for creativity and adventure. All you need is a willingness to see the world in a different way and the courage to go out in it and explore.


This piece was originally published in my Just a Minute column in my local paper, the charming Ipswich Chronicle.


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  1. Laura

    The last couple of weeks have been crazy for me – running back and forth to the hospital where my mom is recuperating from surgery, had a medical emergency for my child with special needs, college prep meeting for my youngest who is researching colleges for us to start visiting, etc.
    Not enough time in the day and by the weekend I was more than a little stressed. But I got up early last weekend and looked out the window and was instantly mesmerized by the gently falling snow and the way it looked on the tree branches. It was a new world! I stood looking out the window for a loooooong time. It was calming and transformative indeed! It didn’t matter that it would make travelling to the hospital difficult. It was fantastic. What a pertinent and timely post!

    • Jamie Lee

      So sorry to hear you had such a rough couple of weeks, Laura.

      Snow certainly does have mesmerizing effect. Reading your comment, I was reminded of my tiny room at Boston College. It was a much-coveted single that was positioned on the corner of the dorm. An outdoor spotlight was mounted just above my window and when the snow fell the light illuminated the snow beautifully. I remember lying on my bed for an hour or more, just watching the swirling patterns that shifted as the wind curled around the building. It was a somewhat otherworldly experience that was both calming and thought-provoking.

      Thanks for bringing me back there for a moment.
      I hope things are better for you this week and beyond.

  2. Jamie,

    That is a simply wonderful essay. All I can say is I LOVE SNOW.
    Thank you for identifying the adult complex regarding snow with such accuracy.
    Well done.


    • Jamie Lee

      Hello, Peter!!! So nice to hear from you. It’s been a while – guess we’ve both been busy (a good thing)!

      Thanks so much for swinging by and for dropping a line. I’m glad you enjoyed the piece. It was fun to write.

      Hope your radio show is going well. I’ll drop you a note on Facebook so their blasted algorithm will put you in my news feed more often! 😉


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