Snow?

There was very little snow in England when I was a kid. As I recall, when it did snow it was not much and didn’t last.  Shoveling snow was unheard of.  I do remember ( a la “Rosebud” ) my father bought me a used sled one Xmas.  He painted it bright red and yellow and sanded the runners ’til they gleamed. There was a hill in the park across the street (called  Spinney Hill Park), made famous by my sermon “Playing With The Italians.” It was pathetic how we dragged our sleds over the one or two inches of rare snow that might accumulate on few winter days.  I was amazed during a sabbatical back in Britain years later to wake in Edinburgh on Easter Sunday to find the roses in the front garden of our borrowed house buried in snow.  A day or so later as we headed “home” to the West Country a barrier across the snow-covered highway warned that it was impassable.  

Having managed five years of winter in Maine, I snickered, maneuvered around the flimsy barrier and piloted our tiny Honda Civic safely down to Bristol and our West Country sabbatical home.  Along the way we encountered what is left of Hadrian’s wall (it has been “mined” by farmers and builders for centuries).  At one point I stopped and trudged across the snow to stand on top of the wall, proudly defying the Emperor, and commiserating with the bewildered sheep huddling against the ancient stones.  And now for something completely different: on our next sabbatical we again opted for the southwest–but this time in Tucson, Arizona. After a five-day trip from Princeton, New Jersey, we drove into Tucson.  It began to snow.

It had not snowed in Tucson for ten years!  There were children running about catching flakes with hands and tongue–children who had never seen snow.  It didn’t last, of course.  It may not have snowed there since except on the Mountain tops.  But what did they mean, those sudden snows following from the mountains of Scotland to the mountains of Arizona?  Of course, this winter, there’s no snowball of mystery in it.