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Little House in the Snowy Woods

Happy first day of winter! Here’s a memory from a few years back. I’m hoping for more of the same this year.

I am living in a snow globe.

Every handful of minutes, the wind visits the alders and maples and evergreens surrounding our house and sends a shower of white billowing about. Inside this globe, I sit in front of the woodstove and watch the orange glow on the other side of the tempered glass. The sounds of David Lanz’s Christmas CD fills the house. To my left, our 15-foot Christmas tree towers. If I had my druthers, the massive fir would be draped head to toe in white lights; for the pleasure of my children, I opted for the green, red, blue and yellow variety.

Fourteen inches of snow presses against the outside walls. Larry is so intrigued with the seldom-seen blanket of white that he keeps insisting I let him go investigate. The dog doesn’t own enough dignity to stay on the porch. He doesn’t understand that snow is not for lying on — at least not longer than the time it takes to make a snow angel. “Silly pup,” I tell him. But he just grins and smacks a trough with his snakey black tail.

If you could enter this snowglobe and sit awhile, I’d offer you a taste of our tradition. Since the year we married, 21 years ago, I’ve been making homemade cinnamon rolls to celebrate our first snowfall of the season. This year’s batch is fresh from the oven (a twin batch just went into the freezer for later baking). The moment I pull the pan from the oven, I slather creamy swirls of cream cheese frosting over the spiraled tops. It melts on contact and drips its sweet, buttery self down between the crevices of cinnamon and sweet dough. Dave likes a big pat of butter on his, and a glass of ice cold milk on the side. I give him the largest roll; he finishes in a half-dozen bites and heads straight back to the kitchen. From my perch on the couch, I listen for evidence, and when it comes — when I hear the sound of the spatula sliding into my stoneware pan and the clink of the butter dish cover being lifted — I smile. He’s waited months for that second helping.

More snow is expected tonight. Maybe we’ll have ourselves a repeat of last night. Maybe we’ll don our winter gear and walk again along the trail that borders our property. At most any other time, we’d have companions on that trail. Bikers, walkers, rollerbladers, and those on horse-back would share our travels. But last night, we owned the world. In an hour of trekking, with only the brightness of snow at our feet to guide our steps, our only company was the creaking of heavy-bowed trees.

I hear those trees now. Every so often, a white-coated branch gives up the battle and drops to the ground, trailing shivers of dust as it falls. I’ve spent most of the morning listening, and looking skyward. I’m watching for boughs, but I’m also looking past those massive sentries — and thanking the God who lives beyond. This scene is His gift … and I’m grateful.

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