Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Gift of a Snowstorm by Milou Koenings

The doldrums are upon us. You know - those weeks after all the glitz and excitement of the holidays when everything seems quiet and, let’s admit it, rather boring in comparison. Yet if we’ve had any transformative moments or made any resolutions in the last month, this is the time they take root in us. This is the time when, far from the bright lights, tender seeds have space to sprout and grow.

After all, while holidays are meant to be times of joy and reflection, they don’t always turn out that way. There’s the stress of family visits, the rush of last-minute gift shopping. Cooking up a storm and running out to the grocery store a half-dozen times for last minute ingredients. And that’s all in addition to our daily lives: work, school, household chores. It’s enough to push anyone - or, at least, me - beyond the breaking point.

With four teens in this household, our daily lives are already crazy. Name an extra-curricular activity - basketball, sewing, gymnastics, choir - and one of the kids will be doing it. Two of these kids are disabled and chronically ill, so we’re dealing with the insurance company and doctors almost every day, too. Time for reflection? Forget about it!

Don’t get me wrong - I love to cook and I especially love holiday cooking. There’s nothing better than being able to create a special meal for the people you love. But I think you’ll understand if I say that adding all the extra hustle and bustle to our daily lives can leave this family pretty worn out and I’m glad when it’s over.

But this year, a miracle happened. It came in the form of an unusual, exceptionally severe storm. We live in an area that gets an inch of snow once about every four years. Ten days ago, we were battered by a two-day thunderstorm that gave way to the worst snowfall this city’s had in two hundred years. The power went out - and with it our heat. Our street was impassable, blocked by three feet of snow. Eventually, the lights and heat came back on, but we’re still snowed in. It’s been eight days since the kids went to school because the school building still hasn’t got its power back.

We ate by candlelight. We huddled together under blankets and played board games to keep everyone entertained. I took my daughter sledding, something she’d never done before. We built snowmen and snowwomen (what can I say, my 14-year-old’s a stickler for accuracy!) and made hot chocolate. Some of us shoveled snow for hours then made more hot chocolate.

With no school bus to run for, we all slept late. No one can go out shopping. Instead of store-bought gifts, the kids made me birthday cards with whatever they happened to find in the house. They’ve told me more about their lives in the last few days of hanging out together than I’ve heard all year.

After dark, we take a walk in our backyard, knee-deep in snow and watch it sparkle like stars around our legs. Each night, as we stand there, our breaths frosting, I whisper like a prayer my favorite Yeats poem:

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

There they are - the stars and the dreams spread all around us … It’s been one of the most romantic weeks I’ve ever had.

I think school will start again soon, if not tomorrow, then the day after. We’ll be going back to work and before long these days will be a memory. But, somehow, I know the center of our family will hold stronger now. Our best gift this year came after the holidays. We haven’t just weathered this storm - we’ve blossomed in it!

What’s the most wonderful thing that’s ever happen to you in challenging weather?

Milou Koenings writes romance because, like chocolate, stories with a happy ending bring more joy into the world and so make it a better place. Her new release, Reclaiming Home, A Green Pines Romance, is available at Amazon and Kobo.

You can find her at her website, Facebook and Twitter.


  1. What a wonderful, inspiring post -- thanks for sharing it!

    I've got to ask ... when you were living without heat, how cold did it get inside?!

    1. No ice on the windows, but ... colder than I'd like to remember!

  2. Enjoyed your post. We had a Christmas like that a few years ago, 2008 maybe, and it was wonderful. The busyness of the season just disappeared. The kids still talk about it so I wasn't the only one who remembers and they were pretty young then!

  3. A lovely post, Milou. We are all so busy, not just at Christmas but all year, it's easy to forget what is important in life, the quiet family time together without a TV, games console or ipad going. Time to talk and connect. Strangely, I had a morning like that today when I visited my daughter. We just sat and talked, really talked about stuff we don't usually discuss. And it was great.

    1. That sounds so beautiful! It's so true that those moments are so rare and precious...

  4. What a lovely post, Milou. We don't tend to get challenging weather so much down here but power cuts, occasionally, yes... and as soon as the power goes out (usually due to a car crashing into a pole or construction work) I feel like a cup of tea!!