It’s February and that means full-blown winter. Does that mean I’m required to bluster about the weather here (no pun intended)? I prefer to think like my mother, who, at age 80, finally admitted out loud that she loved winter. “I can get away with it now, because everyone will say, ‘Oh, it’s just that crazy old lady,’” followed by a wicked grin. I’m not 80 yet, but I already blithely admit I love winter. People can say what they want.
Our daughter sent me a video a day or two ago of her spectacular Olympic-level maiden attempt at a snow angel. One must, first of all, take The Stance, which consists of arms spread wide and feet planted a bit apart. Then comes the Moment of Truth. Are you willing to drop backwards into the deep snow without a spotter to catch you? That is a key element of a gold medal performance. Some will take on the Bent-Knee Drop, which results in an angel with a big torso, but shortened skirt. Not even bronze medal level. The true gold medalist will drop like a Ponderosa pine cut down by an especially skillful lumberjack. Straight knees, arms fully extended…and probably eyes closed in the hope that the snow is deep enough. After the Drop, waving arms up and down, like a demented air traffic controller, at the same time as swishing legs back and forth, will result in a perfectly formed angel.
The true gold medalist now faces the biggest challenge, one which must be executed with care and deliberation: getting up. A silver medalist will sit up and then proceed to plant feet and hands in a replication of a toddler trying to stand upright. Remember, the medalist is fully clothed in winter gear, thus resembling not only Nanook of the North, but also an adult polar bear. (Tip: do not try this in Churchill, Canada, where polar bears roam the streets.) Done incorrectly the Toddler Recovery results look like an angel that has fallen from heaven before it fully understood how wings worked. In contrast, a gold medalist will sit up, and then scootch down, moving the rump across the ridge formed between the legs. This flattens said ridge and gives a full skirt to the angel, rather than a pair of trousers. Because, after all, has anyone ever seen an angel in trousers? I think not.
Walking away from the snow angel requires an eye for beauty and creativity. Most medalists, once upright again, choose to retreat in the same footprints made in approaching the Landing Zone. This nicely creates a trail, or tail, if you wish, off the end of the skirt, reminiscent of a comet’s tail. Which is appropriate, considering angels, upon entering earthly atmosphere, create a contrail, much like a passenger jet streaking toward…well, it’s winter, so I suppose they’re streaking toward some warm clime.
I suppose you’re wondering about my daughter’s snow angel. Was it gold medal quality? Well, she was laughing so hard when the video ended, I assume she was well pleased with her debut. Of course, she was still sitting in the snow, so I had no chance to evaluate the final product. However, she is my daughter, so I proclaim her a worthy recipient of the honor. After all, she comes from gold medal stock—me. I challenge anyone to replicate the performance. Reward yourself with a snowcone or a cup of hot cocoa, and smile at Ol’ Man Winter.