Sunday, November 22, 2015

Winter Wonderland

Seeing multiple pictures of the first midwest snowfall this past week has me feeling nostalgic.  I remember my very first Iowa winter.  It was the year 2000, and I was a freshman at Central College in Pella.  Unprepared for what lay ahead, my recruitment officer (who was also from South Texas) took me and a handful of other winter newbies shopping for official gear.

I quickly learned that down feather jackets are the best for keeping warm.  Wikipedia describes them as the following, "the down of birds is a layer of fine feathers found under the tougher exterior feathers."  While they are not all aesthetically pleasing, my main concern was not freezing.  My grandmother had also knit a multicolored hat and matching scarf for me.  While experiencing my initial frosty season, I was especially thankful for her talent of making things.  The hats and scarves I found in stores simply did not compare in the warming factor.

After searching at multiple stores, I settled on a pair of blue, little boy mittens that matched my new blue, reversible coat.  Again, my objective was to maximize coziness.  I have very small hands, and I didn't think having an extra inch hanging off the tip of my fingers in lady gloves was going to do the trick.

We went shopping early in the season so we would be prepared.  To say I was a little excited about wearing my winter items would be an understatement.  I hung everything up in my closet and waited for the day that is was cold enough to make an appearance.  One blustery morning I awoke and saw that it was 40 degrees outside.  40 degrees?!  I thought.  I pressed my hand against the window and the cold sent chills down my spine.  This has to be it.

I got dressed, wrapped the scarf around my neck, pulled my hat down over my head, put on my jacket and mittens.  With an extra bounce in my step, I headed down the flight of stairs and out of the dormitory.  As I stepped outside, I looked across the street and saw my current crush (insert a towheaded Iowan) walking straight towards me wearing jeans, a long sleeved shirt and Chacos.  I don't know whether or not he saw me (perhaps I've blocked it out?), but I was mortified.  I promptly turned around, marched back upstairs, took off the heavy winter apparel and put on a lighter jacket.  I would rather suffer frostbite than make it more obvious that I was a stranger in a strange land.

Don't read too much into the aforementioned infatuation.  Nothing came of it, and they changed monthly freshman year.  Having grown up on the border of Mexico, I had never seen so many blonde haired and blue-eyed guys in my life; my senses were on exotic overload!  Thankfully, this superficial stage didn't stick around for long.
All wrapped up in my winter gear!  Friends sometimes joked that I looked like a marshmallow on a stick.
Nothing beats that first snowfall.  Everything goes quiet, as if a blanket of calm has fallen on the land.  You look out the window and see the ground and rooftops covered in white, sparkly powder.  While I would learn the ins and outs of thriving in the cold seasons, nothing was as magical (or severe) as that first one.  Memories of classmates walking me to class by hand, "so the little Texan won't blow away," bring a smile to my face.  The sound of the snow under my feet, and the surprising consistency of it falling off of me like sand I won't soon forget.

And lest you think that winter was my favorite season, let me remind you that once March arrived, I was ready for it to be gone.  And oftentimes, in Iowa, it wasn't.  It became a big pain in the butt.  Every year.  Thus, I think I'll stick to my tropical South Texas paradise for now, thank you very much.


  1. What a lovely memory! Nothing like "the first snow" experience. Thanks for sharing your winter in Iowa. Reading your blog made me live a walk in the blanket of snow vicariously.

    1. Thank you so much, Sonya! I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

  2. Snow is a wonderful thing, in small doses, if you're from South Texas. ;)

  3. Snow is a wonderful thing, in small doses, if you're from South Texas. ;)