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Bed & Breakfast and Country Retreat

First Snowman of a Lifetime. . .

Waiting for a beautiful snow this winter has been a lesson in patience.  Nothing can surpass watching white, fluffy snowflakes blanket the hills in a coverlet of white.  With March approaching, the chance of that blessing of snow seemed quite remote, so I had pushed the longing to the back of my mind and was beginning to anticipate subtle signs of spring.

We welcomed guests from Texas to the Barn, two sets of grandparents, and Larry and Gretchen, their son Caleb, 12, and cousin Joshua, 8.  The eight family members were just returning from a quick trip to Kansas. Their trip home was a driving marathon, and they were all travel weary, being on the down side of their fun – filled trip.  All seemed to drag themselves up the sidewalk and into the barn.  It was already dark, and the wind was still blowing hard.  It was a black, cold landscape and everyone’s mood was being colored by it.  Upstairs the warm beds and a good night’s sleep were to be the only escape for these travel weary visitors.  They were all definitely to the point where “home is the best place of all”.

That is until they opened their eyes to the landscape outside their windows the next morning.  Western Nebraska had received a light snow.  Light snow?  Joshua and Caleb had never seen snow!  The transformation of 2 road weary boys to 2 boys seeing snow for the first time was inspiring.

They were dressed, down the stairs, and outside before the sun was even above the horizon.  Not far behind them was the rest of the family, and it was Grandpa who threw the first shot.  A snowball went hurtling across the yard and caught Joshua right in the chest.  After a short flurry of snowballs, it was Caleb whose shouts called the battle to cease.  He noticed in a panic that all of the snow in the front yard was being trampled and going to waste.  “We have to save it to make a snowman!”  he demanded.

Well, breakfast was put on hold.  The adults gave some profoundly important instructions on how to construct the perfect snowman.  The instructions were instinctively ignored by the 8 and 12 year olds, so the adults found refuge in the house from the cold and watched through the window to the wonderland outside.

Outside the sun was casting a pinkish hue across the whitened world.  Two boys were seriously intent, scooping up handfuls of snow to begin the first phase of creating the first snowman in their lives.  The snow was carefully moved to the center of the yard, and with deep concentration the beginning of a magnificent snowman was beginning to take shape.  The only sounds were the occasional calls from the house, asking if they needed to come in and warm up.  But these calls were ignored and soon ceased.   Joshua and Caleb were oblivious to everything; every bit of energy was going toward the experience of building that snowman, based on pictures they had seen and the innate knowledge that all a 8 and 12 year olds have.  They seemed to be communicating on this project telepathically, no words were exchanged.  As the snowman began taking shape, they often stood back to evaluate their work and plan new strategies of perfection.  The only thing that was limiting their industriousness was the amount of snow.  As the snowman grew bigger, so did the margin of brown, winter grass around the base.  Then Joshua noticed the wheel barrow parked upside down at the side of barn.  The wheel barrow became the solution to the problem of limited snow.  Single wheeled tracks traversed the driveway, back and forth, back and forth.  Load after load of snow was brought to the sight with much enthusiasm. Finally,  until the snowman had grown to the height that was almost unmanageable for the boys, they felt successful.

We couldn’t stay inside any longer ourselves, as it got to the point of adding the head, the face, the arms.  Everyone wanted to be a part of bringing life to the snowman.  The yard was full again with childlike exclamations coming from everyone.  Josh and Caleb erupted with words of joy, and welcomed the company. (Their enthusiasm was beginning to wane to the cold.) The front yard was no longer quiet.  Everyone had ideas of how to bring the snowman to life.  Chokecherry twigs for arms, rocks from the driveway for eyes, Caleb removed his ski hat and placed it jauntily on the snowman’s head.  Grandma took off her mittens and broke off  a few straggly twigs, so they would fit at the end of the wooden arms.  I ran in to get a carrot out of the refrigerator for the nose.  A few more loving pats and additional handfuls of snow were added, as a circle of very cold but happy children stood in a circle around the snowman in the bare front yard.  The proudest and most exhilarated might have been Caleb and Joshua, having just experienced the magic of building their first snowman, but coming in at a close second were the rest of the group having reawakened their own inner child.

The breakfast that had been put on hold was now a celebration.  Everyone at the table was animated and energized by the magic that had just taken place in the front yard.  As our guests left that morning, just a little behind schedule, pictures were taken of the snowman from every angle and with everyone at it’s side.  The boys were  relieved to see that they had built him in the shadow of the barn, so the sun still not on him as they drove out of the yard.

By noon the snowman was being diminished to gray heap of slush by the sun and the wind, but we would never tell Joshua and Caleb that.  I am sure that their memory of Western Nebraska will always be a valley of beautiful, white snow and a grand snowman.

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