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Let the childlike wonder come out and play

At 3:30 Friday morning, I could see a few flurries starting to fall. I had all but promised the children that there would be snow on the ground when they woke that morning and I was worried the weatherman had steered me wrong.

I went back to sleep and awoke a couple hours later to the sounds of children pulling on what counts as snow gear in South Mississippi. Some had socks on their hands for gloves. Most were in rubber boots. Only one had a coat that was both warm and waterproof. The typically balmy winters in this part of the state had left us unprepared for the snow storm that hit.

We bundled up as best we could and smiled as our boots hit the soft, powdery snow for the first time. It was 6 a.m. and the white snow was a pale blue in the pre-dawn light. It covered everything in sight except the pond out back.

Those first few minutes in the new fallen snow were magical — and they always are. It snows so infrequently that you forget just how beautiful and quiet and special it is.

The snow had transformed the landscape into something almost unrecognizable. Pine tree limbs bent with the snow’s weight in a sad, yet picturesque way. Snow-covered mailboxes stood guard at each driveway. Even the ugliest of yards were painted a picture-perfect white. It was postcard worthy everywhere in Lincoln County Friday morning, especially in the country. 

Almost as soon as the children began making a snowman, the panicking fear that comes with snow in Mississippi set it. Is it melting? Has it stopped snowing? How long will it last? Will it be here tomorrow?

They didn’t want to come in for breakfast out of fear that the snow might be gone before they got their hands in it again. It’s as if they were afraid they would never see snow again.

I remember the feeling. I can still picture my first time in the snow. My father woke me in the middle of the night and we explored a snow-covered landscape by moonlight. He too had promised snow and was afraid it would melt at sunrise. I can see the clothes-line poles sticking up through the white blanket of snow. I can see the dogs running through it as playfully as we did. I can hear the dead quiet that comes with snow at night. It’s one of my favorite childhood memories.

Snow was (and is) rare in Newton County, just like here. When it comes, you cherish it, love it, pray for it to stay and cry when it melts. At least when you’re young.

At some point into the adult years, snow begins to lose its magic. It may be pretty but it can be a pain to drive through. Businesses close, schools close and life stands still for a while. That makes life tough for adults. We curse the cold air, our wet shoes and icy roads.

But all of us still have that childlike wonder buried somewhere deep inside. Our fascination with snow doesn’t leave us, we just cover it up with things like responsibility and work and productivity.  But if you look for it, you will see the snow differently. You will appreciate the sheer rareness of it. You will embrace the slick driveways and the quiet at night. You will play in a winter storm without a care in the world — except maybe the fear of it leaving too soon.

The last of the snow will likely melt today and life will return to normal. But if you can still find a patch of white, walk through it, touch it and be a child again. In this part of the state, you may not get another chance soon.

Publisher Luke Horton can be reached at luke.horton@dailyleader.com.