By JAMIE PARSELL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
In my mind, things look a bit more graceful. Like the incident with the umbrella. I think I looked like Mary Poppins, gently gliding to the front door at work, with my tote and dress coat. In reality, the winter storm on the day after Christmas was no gentle East wind. It was an angry winter storm with rain, ice and snow. My umbrella lasted 30 seconds before breaking against Old Man Winter. I pushed against the wind with the end of the umbrella. My long brown hair swirled in the air. The force of the gust almost slammed me into the front door.
I wish I had some of Mary Poppins’ magic that day. If I did, I would make every snow day — gracefully perfect in every way. Every winter day needs a bit of magic; we, adults, tend to see only the dirty snow, not the pristine kiss of flurries. We would all look cherry and bright, despite the cold wind and blinding snow. Snow days would be fun days, time to go sledding and drink hot chocolate by a fire, not get slammed into the doors at work.
Winter in the two Virginias can send the graceful to the ground in a matter of seconds. The act — the slipping and sliding — is a humbling event, one each of us can somberly recall year after year. It has only been a few months since I fell down my front porch steps. Ice formed overnight. So, when I bolted down the steps in the early morning, I ended up using the steps as a slide. I bruised more than my ego. I find it amusing that one of our first reactions after any fall from grace is to look around and see who saw our swinging hands and sliding feet. Even at 5:30 a.m., my eyes darted to the neighbors’ house, looking to see if anyone had seen the fall. A half-second later, I remembered they were fast asleep. I wasn’t so lucky this week. Both Jeremy in classifieds and Kim in circulation watched the wind wreak havoc on my entrance. Welcome to first full week of winter, I thought.
Growing up in the two Virginias, most people assume I, along with everyone else in southern West Virginia, must be a skier. I always shock out-of-state residences by confessing the truth. I have never put on a pair of skis or snowboarded at any of the ski resorts. My only time at a resort happened back in the ’90s at the snow tubing park at Winterplace. I had a lot of fun with friends, sliding down the hill in a giant inner tube until the inevitable crash. I couldn’t stop on that last rush down the hill. I kept twisting around and around until I crashed into the orange safety nets along the course. The netting tangled up around my legs. I haven’t been back since. Yet, I love the feel of sledding down a hill after a giant snow storm. In college a few of us decided to play in the snow outside our apartment complex. We didn’t have a huge hill, just a small one, but it was enough to occupy a bunch of college students for an evening. At Bluefield College, we zipped down the hill, along the side of College Avenue. Now that was an adventure. The downhill aspect was exhilarating, but walking back up the hill? Exhausting. But I kept returning to the top, eager for more, until I couldn’t feel my hands or face.
It is hard to look graceful when sledding down a hill. But at that point, it doesn’t matter. No one is cautious of their appearance when racing down a hill, laughing like a child. I didn’t care. I only wanted to have fun and feel the wind against my face. The last time I went sledding it was in the middle of the night during a terrible winter storm. It wasn’t the best idea my friends and I have ever had and we should have known better. At 1:30 a.m., a few of us remembered we had to go to work the next day. But for a few short hours, we were carefree. We threw snowballs, made snow angels and chased each other in the snow. It wasn’t graceful, but it sure was magical.
Fellow Bluefield Daily Telegraph reporter Greg Jordan also wrote about practicing a few moves in the snow with his nephews over the holidays. His words of advice after wiping out on a teenage-made snow ramp? Watch from the window. I giggled when I read about his mishaps, but was happy he wasn’t seriously hurt during the incident. I give him two thumbs up for trying to recapture that magical feeling. All we can ever do is slip and fall and then get back up.
On the next big snow day, I am going to gather Greg and the rest of the newsroom for an impromptu snow day in between breaking news. It won’t be graceful, but it is bound to be a lot of fun.
Jamie Parsell is the lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit on Twitter @BDTParsell.