Posted by: poet kate hutchinson | January 31, 2015

Awaiting the Snow

funny-snowmanPoet Wallace Stevens suggests in “The Snow Man” that we must have a “mind of winter” to “not think of any misery” as the January winds blow around us. Taken literally, this point is never more true than when the forecast is calling for a snowstorm and all we can do is let it come – as is the case tonight in Chicagoland. It seems very few adults maintain that childlike glee in the face of a snowstorm that even my high school students showed yesterday when I mentioned the weekend’s forecast (though most of them lamented the fact that it will not likely give us a Snow Day on Monday).

campfire2How sad it is that the daily grind and our reliance on cars and cleared driveways and roads so quickly destroys our appreciation for the beautiful snows of winter. I’ve hung onto some of my love of snow and cold, but it is indeed dampened by the anxiety of immobility and injury. Every so often I find myself feeling a bit of envy for communities long ago that took advantage of wintertime to slow down, be together, and tell stories or do craftwork. I imagine children then loved snow as much as they do today – the glorious whiteness of it, the way it can be sticky as glue or as feathers in your mittened hands, and the way it sparkles in the sunlight.

IceSkatesHC1301-01My students have been working on poems that capture a moment of their childhoods with sensory images, alliteration, and metaphor. This morning as I contemplated the coming snow, a vivid memory came to me, so I tried to capture it in a poem. My siblings, I’m sure, will remember our tiny blue bathroom on Oakton Street after a long day of playing outdoors. We were fortunate to have a man-made ice rink in the school yard down the block, as well as nature-made spots to skate on when our dad was up to taking us on a trek across the street and into Busse Woods.

My knees and ankles no longer allow me to skate, but oh, how I loved it when I was a girl.

After Ice Skating

stocking capMuffled – the perfect word

for how sounds disappear

into bathroom air when our damp

outerwear hangs all about –

snowpants draped on the shower rod,

scarves, mittens, extra socks

and my long tasseled stocking cap

crowding brackets of the towel rack

like a patchwork tapestry

knitted by some crazy aunt.

snowsuitThat smell of melted snow,

damp and earthy, mud and mist,

our childhoods laid out to dry

while we sit on the little rug

pink-cheeked and matted-haired

rubbing life back into our toes –

the white winter joy between us.

(final photo from The Olive Project blog)


  1. Reading this did bring back memories of playing in the snow and even more of my 3 kids doing so and how it seemed as though it took longer to get them dressed in snow pants, boots, etc. than the time actually spent outside. lol

  2. So true, JoAnn! Plus it was hard to move with all those layers.

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