"When people in Wisconsin/Minnesota talk about the 'first snow of the year' they are not referring to the first snow storm in January. Rather they are referring to the first snow that heralds that winter is finally and really settling in. The first snow of the season generally occurs anytime from the middle of November to early December in that part of the country. In can be a large snow filled with dense water laden flakes...or it can be a dusting of powder on the roofs, on the ground, gently touching the trees. What is important to remember is that by that time of the year the ground is sufficiently frozen and the snow will accumulate and stay---probably until March or April.
"I am not sure why the first snow is so significant in the psyche of those that dwell in that northern climate. Old people smile, young children run for their sleds, puppies and kittens stare in bewilderment...or try to chase down each and every flake of the falling snow. I myself remember sitting on a couch that was backed up to a window...with a good friend (nickname Tacky Tom)..and staring with wonderment as the first snow of the year and declaring to each other that is was awesomely beautiful.
"One of the first snows that I cherish in my memory occurred in the late 1970s...it may have been 1978 or 1979. It was a time of economic stress for me. I had gone through a divorce and then spent money on a new car (payments), bought new furniture (more payments), maxed out the credit cards (even more payments). Lastly I was one hot cuties just hitting the gay scene in Minneapolis/St. Paul and out and about almost any night spending money. At one point for almost six months, my bills each month exceeded my monthly income.
"That said I also had put myself on an extremely tight budget in order to work myself out of the mess I had created. Each and every penny was accounted for during those days and I was gradually working my way out of that debt hole. In summary, money was not in abundance...and what I did have went to paying rent, NSP, phone and creditors.
"During this period of time I learned a profound lesson. The lesson was a simple one...it was simply learning to take pleasure in the little things: pleasure in a good book, pleasure in the smell of fresh coffee brewing in the morning, pleasure in Jack Frost painting his magic on the windows during the night, my cat sleeping gently along my side, spending an afternoon laughing with a friend. Fundamentally it was learning to see, touch, feel, and experience the basic sensual delights of life. Learning that each of these things were and are wonderful experiences that money cannot and could not buy. No matter how wealthy I become, that lesson will remain with me because I now know that it is these little things that carry us day in and day out through life. The big things are pleasurable too...the magic of the holidays, significant birthdays, new cars, new homes...yet they come and they go. It is the little things of life...appreciating them...that are the substance of our lives.
"So, during this period of time, one Sunday morning, I had a "first snow" memory that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
"I can no longer remember the cross street...but my apartment building sat at the intersection of Holly and this cross street in the Summit Hill area of St. Paul, MN. This area during that time was an area of restored row houses, restored mansions (Victorian ladies of stone and mortar) and restored apartment buildings that had originally been build anywhere from the late 1800s to the 1930s.
"As I rose from bed and looked out the window at the Anglican church across the street...I realized it was snowing...the first real snow of the season. In excitement I quickly showered and shaved...brewed a pot of coffee...and then donned by winter clothing to go to the Grand Avenue Bakery to get some pastries to go with the coffee...on the walk to the bakery I saw these two older women...so similar in look that I assumed they were sisters...walking arm in arm in the new snow, kicking it up with booted feet, and laughing together in the pleasure of the moment.
"It was and is even today...a memory that I carry with me.
"I did stand in line outside in the freezing cold and snow to get into the bakery and finally made my purchases...and then returned home to my warm apartment that was filled with the smell of freshly brewed coffee...and read the Sunday paper, ate well, sipped coffee, and watch snowflakes drifting past my windows.
"And I new all was well."