Remembering sublime snowfall, ‘sublimation’

Snow and adolescence are the only problems that disappear if you ignore them long enough.  

- Earl Wilson

A recent trip back to my homeland in the mountains of North Carolina reminded me of how much I’d interacted with snow as a youngster.

We were able to catch a couple of snowfalls less than a month ago that managed to cover the ground, then peacefully melt away later in the day.

No two snowflakes are alike.

That’s something I was told by my seventh grade science teacher. And I’ve never had any reason to think otherwise.

My dad, also a science teacher, taught me that snow is created in a process called “sublimation” — that’s where water vapor (a gas) goes directly to being a solid (snow) without going through the liquid state (running water).

Pretty interesting stuff, eh?

As a kid, I got to be on a first-name basis with a lot of snowflakes, and I can tell you none of them look identical. But I was a little distracted most of the time when I was up close and personal with the white wintry stuff.

As an elementary school student, my first real experience with snow involved hoping school would be called off because of it. There were many nights I went to bed looking for snow, only to be terribly disappointed in the morning.

Often times, I’d have to hustle around the house getting as much of my homework completed as possible, or practice putting on a convincing smile when I’d trot out the old “a band of gypsies broke into the house and stole my homework” routine in a sympathetic gesture for my teacher.

But on those days when the weatherman pulled us through with a few inches of snow, we kids would meet up somewhere to engage in our own version of the Cold War, otherwise known as snowball fights!

We took our battles seriously, rolling giant balls of snow, then crafting them into a sturdy fortress, remembering that our frozen Alamo should withstand any attackers who dared come our way.

After construction was completed, we’d go about the chore of making a cache of snowballs, then stacking them like so many small, white cannon balls waiting to be used in defense of our fort.

In essence, we were implementing the old Boy Scout motto: “Be prepared!”

Those were the good, old days.

But, unfortunately, my days of snowball warfare eventually came to an end after we moved to a house halfway up a mountain with a 1,200-foot driveway that went uphill both ways. And that driveway required a good shoveling several times a winter if I wanted to get with my friends (sometimes for more snowball wars and other times to avoid cabin fever) on those no-school days.

Guess who got nominated to do that chore? Yep, yours truly.

(Note: I learned early on that shoveling went a lot faster if…

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