Most of us dread the season of winter each year. We cringe at the very thought of subzero temperatures, shoveling snow from our driveways and sidewalks, and driving on icy roads and streets. I will be the first to admit that I am not fond of the cold and the relentless winds that seem to blow forever here in the Midwest of South Dakota. But I will admit there is something calming and magical about the first snowfall of the year.


The season brings a newness to our landscapes, blanketing what remains of fall with a crisp coat of white. Wintertime transforms landscapes and locations into dreamlike scenes different from any other time of year. Snow, frost and ice have a way of making every day mundane things look amazing. Yet most will never truly stop to see the beauty that Mother Nature has provided in this season. We get lost in the responsibilities of adult life, our jobs, homes, spouses, children, grandchildren and aging parents consume our time and our thoughts every day. We move through each moment in life so fast paced that it becomes a blur of images. We look around at the routine of our day as we hurry out the door for work or to rush our children to their many activities, to take our senior parents or grandparents to their multiple doctor appointments. To the grocery store, the post office, the school, our jobs and back home again and never pause to truly see the beauty that Mother Nature has presented to us like a gift wrapped present waiting to be unwrapped.

That fence post and barbed wire now coated with a heavy layer of frost or ice, becomes glistening jewels. The dried weeds and plant pods have captured the frost crystals changing their very existence into a natural wonder. The trees are held suspended in time, every branch embracing each snow flake and it becomes alive once again. The pastures and fields, tree lines, ponds and lakes seem to glow as the sun shines anew off that blanket of snow or ice that winter has laid before us. Wildlife once camouflaged and hidden in the lush green of trees or thick prairie grass of the fields, are now visible, their natural colors even more striking against the iced ponds and creeks. Even the crisp cold air brings out the most vibrant blueness in the sky.

Most will wander aimlessly lost and obtuse to the beauties in life,



what God has provided for us, the changing of the seasons and what Mother Nature has painted for us with a wave of her hand. As children, in the innocence of our youth we were allowed to be carefree, playing in the snow. Looking around at the vast whiteness and mounds of snow and imagining the forts we were going to build. We were now explorers of the Arctic, engineers of tunnels and grand snow palaces. As adults we have lost our youthfulness, imagination, and carefree views of what winter brought, a freshness, a new beginning, and a season of change. We are bombarded with our everyday responsibilities. Consumed with the troubles in the world today, politics, what side should we be on, left or right. The images that the news cast of rioting, shootings, scandals, war, death, wild fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, landslides, drought, starving, kidnappings, abuse, homelessness, the list goes on and on. So much negativity and sadness, and few positive, happy, and joyful images to renew our hearts and minds.


Close your eyes, take a deep breath and blow free from your mind all the responsibilities of adulthood, all the ugly images in our world today that the media outlets portray, what social media is streaming. I want to take you back to being a child once again and waking up to that first big snowfall of the year.

Do you see it?

You are so excited you can hardly contain yourself, even as your mother is making you a large hot breakfast to fill your belly as she knows it will be hours before she sees you again once you’ve walked out the front door. You hurriedly put on the many layers of clothing, long underwear first, your wool socks or even multiple socks. You crawl into your snow suit, stocking cap, scarf, gloves and snow boots to follow. You want to beat your siblings, to be the first outside to the winter wonderland. You fall backwards into the fresh blanket of snow embracing it around you, and you begin to create your snow angel. So very careful you get up, not to disturb your creation so that mom and dad can


look out the window and see your masterpiece. You look up at the heavens trying to capture the snowflakes on your tongue and they cling to your eyelashes at the same time blinding you ever so briefly. You march through the tracks in the snow following your big brother or sister’s footprints trying to match each step with your own. Looking for the best spot to build your snow fort and tunnels. You engage in a battle of, “King of the mountain”, on top of the largest pile of snow that has been formed by the tractor that dad is now using to free the driveway and making pathways to the barn in order to get to the pens to feed and water the livestock on the farm. A snowball has hit you and a war has now begun of snowballs being thrown from every direction, you take cover and try to out smart your siblings. You grab your sled and race up the nearest hill taking turns sliding down, giggling and trying to steer that sled with your younger brother or sister in your lap, trying to keep the both of you from tipping over. You no longer feel any cold as you have worked up a sweat from the constant movement of climbing and sliding, climbing and sliding. You take turns rolling across every inch of the yard balls of snow to build the biggest snow man that anyone has ever seen, even bigger than last year. You put the youngest sibling in charge of gathering branches for arms, and the other materials to make the face. Telling them to sneak back into the house for an older scarf and hat that mom won’t miss. It is a group effort to lift the second and then the third ball of snow up to piece your frosty together. You step back after all pieces are in place and imagine him coming to life and dancing around with you. You ditch your snow boots to be replaced with ice skates and the nearest pond now becomes your skating ring. You are performing before an audience as the next Olympic ice skater, spinning around and around and around. Never tiring, as free as a bird floating through the air. Then that first winter’s day starts to come to an end as your parents holler for you to come inside. Your imagination follows you back home, of all that you have achieved that day, the characters you had become, the wars you fought, the forts you engineered and the explorer of the new world that you were for the moment.


Open your eyes, did you see it, could you feel it again?

I challenge each and every one of you no matter how old you are, after the snow falls or ice storm, the heavy morning frost that has arrived, to bundle up, get out and explore. Whether by foot, snowshoeing, on a snowmobile or in your four-wheel drive truck. See the beauty, the magical winter wonderland before you. Be that child of innocence and imagination you once were and the harshness of winter that we see as adults won’t be that miserable or dreadful of a season.