Sunday, February 19, 2012

Snowy Memories

It's snowing. That's not too unusual this time of year in Virginia. In fact, it is possible to get snow here any time between October and March. It doesn't usually amount to much; just a pretty show, a little slush, then muddy yards. But today it's snowing a good amount. The yard is turning white, the cars are covered, and even the street is disappearing.
I don't know why, but snow makes me restless.
I'm more of an indoor than an outdoor person; always more content to curl up in a comfy chair with a good book than to run around outside. But when it's snowing, I want to be out in it. Maybe it's because the world looks so clean with all the Virginia red clay buried under a field of soft white. Maybe it's because the air is crisp and sharp. Or maybe it's because days like this remind me of my Grandma Asher.
When I was a kid, we traveled from Tennessee to Idaho for Christmas twice. I don't know whether our home state was trying to show us what we were missing by living so far south, or if we were just lucky, but it snowed to beat the band both times. My 3 siblings, our cousins and I would bundle up and go play in the yard for what seemed like hours: making snow angels, having snowball fights, and just running through the snow. We would run between and under the lilac bushes that graced the yard when I was small, marvelling at the grass still untouched by white under the biggest bushes. Eventually, we would get tuckered out, and Grandma (being as psychic as all grandmothers are) would call us in for hot cocoa.
We would all run around to the back so we could take off all our wet things on the much easier-to-clean linoleum floor in the rear hallway. Then we would pile into the kitchen and have a short scuffle over who got to sit on the coveted barstools, and who got consigned to the table. Being the oldest (and the meanest, according to my siblings), I always got 1 of the 3 seats at the bar. Then Grandma would bring us our hot cocoa, loaded up with extra marshmallows. Sometimes we would have cookies too, or toast to dip into the cocoa. Always, we had the comraderie of cousins and siblings, the warmth from the kitchen, and the love of our Grandma.  
After I graduated from high school, I went to Idaho and spent 5 1/2 months living with my grandparents. My favorite memories from that time are of sitting down with my Grandma Asher after she got home from working the swing shift at Hewlett Packard. Getting home at 11:30pm, she didn't want a traditional heavy dinner. So I would have cocoa (with marshmallows!) and toast ready for us to consume while we talked or just sat in companionable silence. Since I was engaged to be married, she almost always had some good advice or a funny marital story of her own to pass along. I got to know her then as I had never known her before, and I loved her all the more for her treatment of me as not just a grandchild, but a fellow woman. I have often put her advice to good use in my marriage.
So when it snows, I want to go outside and throw snowballs, and make snow angels, and build a snowman of epic proportions. And when I come inside, there is always a small part of my child-within that hopes Grandma will be standing at the stove making cocoa and admonishing me and my children to take off our wet things before they drip all over the house. Of course, she never is, nor will be again. So I fire up the kettle, admonish my children myself, and then sit and laugh and pass on a tradition to a new generation in honor of one of the sweetest women this world ever knew.
Grandma and Grandpa Asher


  1. Wonderful, Vinca! I'll let Mom read it when she has the time to sit and cry for a while.

  2. Trust me, Papa, I cried while I wrote it. It's the little things that remind me most of her.

  3. Vinca, this was so beautiful. I loved reading about your time with Grandma before you got married. I feel definitely that you knew Grandmama better than I did, and you really make her shine through in your writing here. Thank you.

  4. Hilda-B, I can tell you most definitely that you were the child of her heart. You and Grandma were the most alike, I think. I am glad that I had the time I did with her, as I know you also are glad for the time you had.