Content ID


Say It Isn't Snow

People in my part of the world have been using a particular four-lettered word quite a bit lately, the one that begins with “S.” 

That’s right: we have been talking about snow.

The first real snowfall of winter arrived a few days ago. We can’t complain, as we were well into December before everything outdoors turned white. I can recall experiencing a Halloween blizzard and an Easter snowstorm. We have yet to have a snowy Fourth of July in this part of the world, but I wouldn’t bet against such a thing.

Even though snow inevitably arrives in the wintertime, I’m inevitably disappointed when it does. Like many disappointing developments, the news first arrived via the internet.

My weather app said that it was snowing in our area. Not one to believe everything that I read on the internet, I walked over to the window to see for myself.

“Aw, crap,” I said to my wife, using a family-friendly euphemism, “There’s white stuff falling from the sky.”

“Really?” she replied. “Say it isn’t snow!”

“Ok, I won’t. The air outside of the house contains immense quantities of frozen crystalized water. The hexagonal crystals have a high albedo, causing them to reflect a large amount of the visible light spectrum.”

“Why couldn’t you just tell me that it’s snowing?”

There are those who were actually wishing for snow just so that we could have a white Christmas. Since they got their wish, I should be granted mine which is that their sock drawers be occupied by colonies of incontinent mice.

This is because many people who wish for the arrival of snow to create a picture-perfect Christmas – I’m looking at you, Martha Stewart! – are also the same people who never have to shovel snow. Your perspective on a particular topic can change quickly if something goes from being “so pretty!” to “such a pain in the patootie!”

Snow has its place, obviously. Ski resorts would have a tough go of it without the slippery H2O crystals that enables folks to hurtle down mountainsides and wipe out at speeds normally associated top fuel dragsters. And snowball fights wouldn’t be possible without a ready supply of icy ammunition. Snowmen would have to be constructed of twigs and mud, making them much less appealing. Frosty The Snowman wouldn’t be nearly as popular if he were Grimy The Amorphous Jumble Of Wet Dirt.

The arrival of the first snow put my wife in the mood to send out Christmas cards. Christmas tunes played in the background as she addressed the cards, songs with such snow-centric titles as “Let it Snow,” “Winter Wonderland,” and “Christmas Time is Here.” Bing Crosby smoothly crooned “White Christmas” in a manner that reminded me of vanilla pudding.

At 18, I took a job working for a local dairy farmer. That winter, we were struck by a three-day blizzard in the first week of November, and winter didn’t leave until the last week of April. The blizzard filled the free stalls on the north wall of the boss’s new dairy barn with snow, and I had to remove the white stuff one backbreaking shovelful at a time. It was enough to make a guy swear off of scooping for the rest of his days.

By Christmastime, subsequent snowstorms had created a drift that reached the eaves of the dairy barn.

The boss and his wife provided daycare for their three-year-old granddaughter, Holly. Holly had received a boat-shaped plastic sled for Christmas. I took Holly sledding on the highest hill for miles around by pulling her up the snowdrift next to the dairy barn, not stopping until we had reached the peak of the pole barn’s roof.

I doubt if she remembers that, but I’ll never forget it.

Our first real snowfall of this year was heavy and wet, the kind of snow that’s ideal for making snowballs or building snowmen. Our lawn was covered with vast quantities of snowball ammo and/ or the innards of innumerable snowmen.

I took our dog, Bella, for a walk after it quit snowing. We had one of those rare post-snowfall days out here on the prairie when the wind didn’t immediately rearrange the white stuff into ocean wave-like drifts. It was actually quite pleasant out and, in its own way, pretty.

The boughs of the fir tree that stands guard by our cattle yard were laden in an artsy manner with dollops of new snow. The tableau made me think of a Christmas card, so I snapped a photo.

“Let’s go home,” I said to Bella. “We need a little Christmas right this very minute!”

About the Author

Jerry Nelson

Jerry Nelson and his wife, Julie, live in Volga, South Dakota, on the farm that Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded in the 1880s. Daily life on that farm provided fodder for a long-running weekly newspaper column, “Dear County Agent Guy,” which become a book of the same name. Dear County Agent Guy is available at

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