Snow Blindness

Hello from North Haven!

Since Thursday morning, we’ve enjoyed three major snowstorms, including Saturday’s unexpected 8 inch bounty. After such a snowless December and January, I’ve been feeling a little anxious about maximizing snow fun, with mixed results.

Thursday’s storm inspired Penrose to at first put on her green and blue long armed, long sleeved bathing suit and long socks. She aspired to wear it outside, but I convinced her to put on something more appropriate. We tromped around, made a tiny snowman, and started plotting a snow cave in the plow pile. She ate a lot of snow, which was at least clean. We didn’t make it back out in the afternoon (she napped until nearly dark), but I felt like an appropriate amount of snow fun had occurred.

Friday was a snow day for my husband, but not for North Haven, and after Pen and I got home from school she was excited to put on her snowsuit and play outside with us – for about two minutes. As we dug and scraped at the start of the snow cave, she dissolved in crabby tears. We called it for nap time. Once again, she slept long enough that the outdoor play window had pretty much closed by the time she woke up.

Saturday’s exceptionally pretty – and wholly unexpected – snowfall yielded a really frustrating parenting moment. Pen seemed excited to go outside in the morning, but after getting suited up (and an argument about mittens), she lasted for just a few minutes before insisting on going inside. I was upset – surprisingly so. My husband was on the mainland for a meeting, and I wanted nothing more than to spend some time outside. Before becoming a parent, I had near total autonomy – I could put on my snowshoes or skis on a whim and take off into the park or bushwhack through the woods. Now, I couldn’t even walk around the yard unless I had permission from someone who doesn’t always make it to the potty in time. We came inside. I moped. She moped. We read a few books, halfheartedly. We talked a little bit about how we were feeling. And then – she asked to go back outside! We got dressed again and had a little more fun, building another tiny snowman, scraping away at the snow cave with the cool folding shovel in my car, eating more snow, and having a much better time. When we went back inside (with my daughter insisting that she was DONE DONE DONE), I felt that we had made better use of the snow.

I went back out during her nap, working on the snow cave some more and taking myself for a walk (trudge) around our yard, up onto the hill beside the house. Was I frustrated because I wanted Penrose to enjoy the snow, or because I wanted to enjoy it myself? Snow is fleeting, especially when half the time it turns into rain, but plenty more was in the forecast. What was I projecting onto my kid that was making playing outside so stressful? Should I be insistent about outside play? Or let her go inside when she starts to feel cold, even if it’s only been five minutes?

Sunday, during the calm before Winter Storm Orson and its bombogenesis (what a great new word!), I took Pen snowshoeing. She refused to put on her own little snowshoes, and screamed when I put her in the backpack, but after a few minutes she settled in and entertained herself by pulling snow off tree branches and chatting with our friends. The peaceful two miles set my mind at ease about appreciating the snow while I could. At sunset, the storm began, escalating quickly into full-on gale fury. We were housebound for much of Monday, other than a quick foray onto the porch, instigated by Penrose, who was now wildly enthusiastic about going outside. It didn’t last.

A quick foray into Winter Storm Orson.  Photo by William Trevaskis, used with permission.

A quick foray into Winter Storm Orson. Photo by William Trevaskis, used with permission.

And that was that. Today, with a delayed start, we got to enjoy a leisurely morning, and when we went out to the car, traipsing down the paths my husband kindly shoveled, Pen marveled at the height of the snow on either side. Maybe we’ll get out in them and restart the snow cave (which is totally buried under our nearly three new feet of accumulation), or try snowshoeing again, or just wade around in it. Or not. But I don’t think it’s going anywhere, so I can relax and let the outdoor play happen without me forcing it.

Courtney Naliboff

About Courtney Naliboff

In addition to this blog, I'm a contributing writer to, a Jewish parenting site, a blogger and book reviewer for, and the author of Salt Water Cure, a column in Working Waterfront. I report news from North Haven for Working Waterfront and Island Journal, and was a speaker at the Maine Conference for Jewish Life in 2015. Follow Frozen Chosen on facebook or visit my Web site for more writing and free music to download!