Here's my latest column at Blue Mountain Moments: An Acquired Skill.
Enjoy! [Note: Link expired when replaced by most recent column; article is pasted below.]
An Acquired Skill
Staying at home with young children during this time of year – when one’s skin hurts from a lack of Vitamin D – is a finely honed, acquired skill. A craft, really. An art, quite often, unrecognized.
Sure, you could do it in a “low-road” manner and suffer through these final snows with a scowl and a fiercely abused remote control. Sure, you could schlep the kiddies to the market again and again just to GET OUT – “Yahoo! We need mothballs! … ” Or you could do what Great Aunt Lucille and Grandma Mary Martha did back before minivans toured these roads – develop the art of just staying in.
First, turn off the TV. Next, for a change of scenery, run to the most rarely traveled spot of your home -- for us it’s the attic bedroom. Upon arrival, distribute old silk handkerchiefs that ripple (a cape) and rustle (a maiden’s headdress) as they flow through the air. After that, let your kids take the lead.
Be their fairy godmother or their wicked witch. Follow them wherever wintry winds leaking through windowpanes lead them. Because, while I would certainly choose a sunny day at the park over a snowy day in the attic any day, I’d wager cold is the weather of poets. I’d wager if ever a time could make a soul turn inward and thus discover something new – a play waiting to be written – a sonata waiting to be sung – it’s when the world is covered in white, white snow.
I’ll never forget the winter when one upstairs adventure culminated in hours of bellowing the song Home on the Range. I fondly remember carrying a baby room to room while my other tots jumped high on the beds. The world beyond our windows was iced like gingerbread as we sang: Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam, where the dear and the antelope play … Where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day …
The tune became such a hit in our repertoire that I even painted its words as a boarder in that attic bedroom. “Sing Skies Not Cloudy,” my four-year-old demands as he long ago, quite appropriately, renamed the song. I always comply. And as I stroll our creaky floors, the melody puts a spring in my step. So I sing louder. My son chimes in as he gallops on his broomstick stallion. The other day the chorus inspired a leap from the bed. His cape sliced the air like a whip. I caught a glimpse of the sky in his eyes and it was a brilliant summer’s blue – not a cloud in sight.
-- Sarah Johnson
Sarah can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org