It has taken awhile but the first real snow fall of the year has happened. Always a time of expectation when we first begin to hear six to eight inches. Anything less that is no big deal.


The ground had looked barren, desolate with its different shades of brown. There were parcels of green, where larkspurs bravely stood. But without that protective snow blanket, how long could they prevail occasional artic temperatures.

Snow is coming, my weather radio kept forecasting. The snow kept procrastinating until we wondered why we cancelled the dentist appointment. The amount kept diminishing until we began contemplating one more venture away from home.

About suppertime, evening chores just finishing up, we saw that long anticipated first big snowflake. Don’t ask me why, but snow falling imparts a cozy ambience outdoors that radiates in the house.

Until bedtime we keep a watchful eye, peering out windows periodically making sure it is still snowing. We are hoping for some, just not too much as that would complicate life.

We know the forecast, the radar concurs, that we won’t wake up to a mountain of snow. Up before dawn’s first color streaks across the eastern sky, we can see that it has snowed. Instinctively we breathe a sigh of relief. Snow on the ground looks much more normal for this time of the year. A sense of optimism returns for the upcoming crop year. It has been so dry.

It was necessary for me to spend the morning baking so it wasn’t until afternoon before I could get out to enjoy the snow.

The wind was brisk as I headed off for my daily constitutional, nice idea but seldom ever happens. It was too cold to walk a mile, so turning around I headed for the shelter of the grove was appealing.

Someone had already broken a path. Curiosity got me wondering where it led. A trail so bold any blindfolded tracker could easily have followed. Reminding me of the proverb that hangs in my entry:


The future lies before you
Like a field of driven snow
Be careful how you tread it
For every track will show.

Leaving the rest of the snow untouched, I walked their steps, past the cow with the first calf of the season, up past the asparagus which did a good job of holding the snow. The butternut trees gave no clue if they still held life. The warm temperatures last spring lured them to break dormancy early. When frosty temperatures occurred those first leaves shriveled up and died, resulting in many leafless branches all summer.

The gardens were covered. One long black strip gave clue to the strength of the northeastern wind that blew, picking up dirt from a late fall pipe digging project.

The path heads off to the far garden, where the sharp wind took my breath away. It brought tears to my eyes, farther blinding my walk. At one spot, the trail makers stopped to make angels in the snow. Tempted to replicate I chose to act my age instead continuing my trek.

My legs were beginning to remind me that trudging through the snow was no walk in the park. Too stubborn to quit, my fresh air jaunt continued. My endurance began to waver when I saw the trail leading towards the grove, not sure if there is enough in me for another loop, it pleased me greatly to see a sharp turn towards the swingset. They didn’t bother to swing, so neither did I.

Back inside our rosy faces and smiles confirm that often times it the simplest things in life that bring us the most pleasure.

Note: The bit of snow northwest Iowa received is pretty much all gone.


Essays from My Farm House Kitchen | Renae B. Vander Schaaf

Renae B. Vander Schaaf, freelance writer, lives on a real working farm in northwest Iowa.

To Contact Renae B. Vander Schaaf, please email her at [email protected]