Posted by: Kara Luker | January 1, 2011

Snow day!

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:10

After a week in Colorado with sunny skies and mild temperatures, we woke up yesterday morning to fat snowflakes falling from a gray sky and wintery temperatures that plummeted by the hour. It was the best of Colorado (except, of course, for all the other best parts). When booking the flights a few months ago, my intent was to return home yesterday morning but I just wasn’t settled about it. Even though it didn’t make sense, I booked the flight for today and felt great peace. I am so glad I went with that sense. Not so much to avoid the travel complications that would have arisen from the storm, but to experience with my beyond-joyful 15-year old the year’s first big snowstorm in Fort Collins.

Cheap labor

While it was still early, Evelina and I braved the slick roads to drop Aksel off at daycare. There was a kid out front, alone, shoveling the walkway with a shovel twice as wide as his puffy blue coat. It looked charming and yet child-labor wrong. I pictured Aksel scrubbing toilets and sweeping floors after we left him in the homey environment. He came home with dyed blue hands, which he said was from homemade play doh, but I’m thinking it might have been from the Tidy Bowl.

We took to the slippery streets again, this time toward Evie’s salon on the opposite side of town. I sat with strips of foil on my head, watched the flurries collecting on bare branches out the window, and had a lively conversation with Sally, a fascinating woman in her 60’s who loves travel, her dead husband, and her kindle. We were soon foil-headed twins, embracing the skill and wit of my stylist sister-in-law, and enjoying the connection.

Laurie & I at Dempsey's

With my hair toned down from the sun’s ruthless bleach job, I left Evie to her remaining clients and met up with a favorite friend, Laurie, for breakfast in Old Town. Our conversations are always unedited, real, true. And always too short for my liking. We talked about life and what the love of God really looks like. We cried a little and laughed a lot. We prayed together, had the hostess take a photo of us, and hugged goodbye. Sometimes I dream we will get to live close to each other again, but I am so happy for these moments with her that make all the other moments of my life better.

After my sweetly sobering time with Laurie, I hopped back into Michael’s little burgundy Tercel, stepped on the clutch, and got giddy to drive around in the snow. It’s not like I’m good at it. I can’t count how many times I’ve slidden through intersections, barely missing cars or stop signs, but it is fun and makes me feel one with the weather.

I drove up Mulberry and turned onto Smith, the happy tree-lined street where Cole and I lived before moving to California. I hopped out into the powdery snow and smiled. In the midst of writing a note for our old neighbors the McGranes, who were probably cross country somewhere in their VW bus, I turned to see two cars collide in the middle of Mulberry. “Bummer,” I thought, as I finished my note and let my heart wander a while.

Smith Street

Looking at that lovely street, covered with snow, I was reminded of the spring we had a blizzard. Three feet of heavy, wet snow fell over the course of a few days, and the whole town shut down. We all acted like excited little kids getting a day off school. There were people on skis and sleds in the middle of the street, with happy faces and bright scarves. It felt like one of those idyllic Wysocki paintings, except without the horses. My friend, Katie, and I pulled Cole on a sled to the elementary school, where we made impassioned attempts to snowboard down the small hill.

When we learned that the big hill by Bryan’s house had enough snow to cover the prickly plants, a group of us removed the large branch that had fallen on my car, used some sweat and shovels to make a path for my tires, and set out on an adventurous drive to Loveland. What ensued was one of the most magical and memorable days in the history of spring. Friends and neighbors laughing, speeding, tumbling, standing, sitting, freezing together in the best of contexts.

Barb, Katie, and I jumped on a plastic toboggan and zoomed down the slope. Somewhere along the way, Katie disappeared from the front and we came to a sudden halt. When we discovered the issue – mainly Katie’s body beneath our large sled – we were laughing so hard, we couldn’t seem to remove ourselves from her poor body. It was joy. Sheer joy.

Our house on Smith Street

I relived so much standing there on Smith Street yesterday. Praying in my house with Katie while an unexpected hailstorm pelted the roof. Cole, Marty, and Polly playing in their treehouse, jumping on the giant trampoline where I was sure I broke my leg, using slingshots to hit targets and small animals. The path by the river where I would walk in winter wearing my big wool sweater. The small group from church that met at my house for life and coffee on Tuesday nights. Cole’s birthday party with eight hyped up boys and a piñata that wouldn’t burst. Coveted conversations with Bill, the African American neighbor who towered over me and brought me barbecue.

The reverie lingered as I slid into the car and put it in gear. I didn’t want to leave really. Not that I want to live there again or undo my choice to move, but I felt steeped in an appreciation of how much “there” is a part of me “here.” Well, not here, on this very delayed flight back to Orange County. But here in my heart, in who I am, in how I love. And it helps me imagine how many of the moments I’m having now are adding texture, strength, and the sweetest of memories to who I will be.

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