Friday, January 16, 2009


We’ve been having quite a winter here in Minnesota: record snowfalls, ten-year temperature lows (-31 degrees one morning this week), record snow blower and snow shovel sales. So this morning while I was watching the national weather report, it occurred to me that my new granddaughter will have to be taught winter snow skills at some point since she’ll never acquire them naturally in Phoenix, Arizona. And who better to teach her snow skills than her grandmother?

First, I will need to teach her to make snow angels. It’s not as easy as it looks. A snow angel maker must be fearless and fall straight backward into a pile of snow (kind of like those “trust” exercises at team-building seminars, except there’s nobody behind you to catch you). After the snow angel has been armed and legged, a snow angel maker has to almost levitate to leave the imprint undisturbed in the snow.

Then it’s important to teach her how to jump off the deck railing into a snow bank. Technique is everything here; we don’t want any head-first dives. The goal is to do a feet-first plunge that implants her firmly, waist deep into the snow below.

Then I need to show her how to sit on a little plastic sled, push herself forward with her hands, and careen down a snowy slope. We will start out with the little hills in the neighborhood and eventually graduate to a bigger hill after she gets the hang of it.

Her grandpa will have to teach her a few things I’m not very good at. For example, he will have to take her to Noonan’s Park and teach her how to skate. Everybody in our family except me is an expert skater. I've been told it’s best if I just stand along the edge of the pond and guard their boots. Grandpa might even have to take her out ice fishing—but probably just once. It seems like after he took our own kids ice fishing, they never wanted to go again. Then definitely, he will have to teach her how to ski at Andes Tower ski hill. I used to ski in my day—but a 100-mph trip into the woods at Afton Alps one brisk January day in 1989 cured me for life. Yup, skiing is definitely Grandpa’s job.

Then I’ll show her how to build a snow fort, dig a snow tunnel (the safe kind), and throw snowballs (we’ll ambush Grandpa!).

Finally, I will need to teach her how to shovel the driveway and sidewalks. She has to learn that snow isn’t just to play in; it’s also used in Minnesota to help build children’s characters. We may need to take a grandmother/granddaughter trip to Fleet Farm to buy a little red plastic shovel, just like her daddy and her aunts used to have. I’ll be sure to teach her to lift with her legs, not her back, so she doesn’t ruin her chances to become a neurosurgeon, a prima ballerina, or an F-16 fighter pilot when she grows up.

It’s a big responsibility, teaching a little Arizona granddaughter how to get the most out of snow. I can hardly wait until she’s old enough to visit us in the winter and learn all the skills a kid needs to be taught by her Minnesota grandparents to survive the winter and build some character.


Anonymous said...

One other suggestion-keep up your fitness program. Last winter I was stuck in a snowbank with two heavy two year olds bundled up in many layers of warm clothing. Neither one of them could move without loosing their boots so I put a two year old under each arm and trucked up a very long hill. I decided that if that didn't cause a heart attack--nothing would. Keep lifting those weights!! Grandma Netty

2to4aday said...

Grandma Netty: I wish I had a picture of that!