I love how certain things have a way of taking you back in your mind. How a smell, or a song, or a sight can take you back in your memory to a special person or a special time and place.
Snow does this for me. Snow always takes me back to a wonderful day in January of 1990. I was ten years old. We’d had a beautiful, perfect snowstorm blow through Murphy, Oklahoma. It was as though Stamper Ranch was covered with a clean, white, fluffy blanket. We were at my grandparents house, and through the windows of the dining room, you could see brood mares and a few foals nibbling on a round bale of hay, with snow sitting on their backs. My uncle Rick and aunt Becky had brought a sled, and we had been taking turns sliding down the slope of the long driveway in front of my grandparents house.
My dad and uncle Dewayne sat out in the den drinking coffee with my papa Claude. My sister Shannon and cousin Holly sat in the living room having “teenage girl talk” and could be heard occasionally giggling. And I was in the kitchen with my granny, who was baking cookies. Chocolate chip with pecans. The house smelled amazing. Along with the cookies, she’d made a fresh pot of hot cocoa and apple cider, both of which were still warming on the stove. And of course, there was the ever-present pot of coffee just to the left of the stove.
There was an old clock/radio that hung from beneath the kitchen cabinets, and normally it was on a news station, but today she had it quietly playing music. You had to listen closely, but you could faintly hear Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas”, which I found odd because Christmas had already passed.
My granny walked over to the window to look out at my cousins Hayley and Ashley and my brother Sky as they slid down the gentle slope on the sled. In her sweet, quiet voice she said “Whose woods these are, I think I know…” She then said “Do you know that poem, Stoney?” I asked “what poem, granny?” She said, “it’s Robert Frost. It’s one of my favorites.” She then went back to the hallway to a bookshelf and grabbed an old, worn book of poetry. We sat at the dining room table and she introduced me to my most favorite poem that I would ever read. And along with that, she also gave me one of my dearest memories. It was a wonderful day. Cold and beautiful outside, warm and happy and filled with love on the inside.
A short two years later, my grandmother Clarice June would pass away from complications of ALS. We lost the wonderful woman, but we’ll never lose those memories. And snow will forever take me right back to that perfect day over 25 years ago. So on a day like today, playing in the snow with the girls and building snowmen, I only hope that someday when the kids are grown, they’ll be able to think back to that long ago day in February of 2015 and have that same feeling that I’ve had all day today. Because memories like these are better than any material thing that I could ever give them.
“Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”