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A blanket of snow, a coat of paint

January 23, 2011

I love snow days.

Around here they tend to come around only once a year, so we treat them like surprise holidays, with glee, cookies, snapshots and top stories on the local news. (Sometimes we head into town, where some of the power lines are buried and we’re less likely to lose heat.)

It’s best when it snows all night, and we wake up to see through the window a different world, all bright and white and sparkling. The way it happens in The Little Island, a lovely little book Margaret Wise Brown wrote as Golden MacDonald (does anyone know why?):

Winter came
and the snow fell softly
like a great quiet secret in the night
cold and still.

Even our pieces of scaffolding look better in the snow, am I right?


We rarely have to shovel the snow or watch as it gets all gray and dingy along the roadside; we all stay home on the first day, and after that it quickly melts.

My dad grew up with deeper winters in New Jersey. When he moved to Arkansas, an ancient runner sled came with him – I think my siblings and I were the fourth generation it carried down snowy hills. I don’t know what happened to the sleds, but this time next year I plan to have something more than plastic storage bin lids. I need to channel a more childlike attitude, too; when Jack asked about snow angels yesterday, I was all, “You know you have to lie down in the snow for that, right?” (Note to self: Better add snowsuits to the list, too.)

So we celebrated with a couple of short snowy walks. Jack discovered his coat pockets and the powdery footprints of deer, dogs, squirrels and birds.

And we spent the rest of our snow day inside, admiring winter through the windows, getting inspired to open another few cans of white paint, and feeling thankful that Jack still thinks that a coat of white paint is just as fun as the snow outside – no bribes or Tom Sawyering necessary.

We’ve been painting this place white since we bought it (five years ago this month). First old paneling, trim and cabinetry, and eventually a house full of bare drywall and new kitchen cabinets. Everything white. (Well, except for in the living areas, where I went wild with a blue-white and a green-white.)

I love color. Someday I might have a navy wall or a yellow door. I dream of wallpaper, an orange sofette, one of my flea market chairs recovered in a loud botanical print. But we aren’t there yet; we’re starting from scratch, and I like having a blank white canvas of a house.

I’ll always love the house I grew up in, with its concrete walls and floors, and wood beams under a tin roof. I love my mother’s house, native stone inside and out. And I love this house – my first one, and what I hope may be my only one – with its plain, bright white walls that seem proud to be standing and eager for something to happen.

When I’m overwhelmed by the sawdust in the corners, the tubs and boxes piled high, plastic-covered windows and doors and the unfinished bathrooms, seeing those walls is satisfying. Satisfying like waking up on a weekday morning to see a yard full of snow that hasn’t yet been walked through.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. January 24, 2011 4:32 am

    That baby’s smile is infectious. I, too, love a fresh coat of both snow and paint. Everything seems crisper, cleaner, more open to possibility.

  2. January 24, 2011 1:53 pm

    He is so scrumptious! I do think that you’re very daring to give him paint–my girls would probably ignore the walls and paint themselves.

  3. January 24, 2011 3:43 pm

    I love the snow, and I completely agree – it’s best to wake up to a city/yard covered in snow when it has been gently falling all night. It feels like Christmas morning: You go to bed with no presents under the tree and when you wake up, voila! Surprise! It’s a good feeling. I’m yet to take my daughter out sledding though. Need to add that to our to-do list. Maybe this weekend if the snow prevails. Bring it on!

  4. John permalink
    January 24, 2011 5:30 pm

    Real men paint with no pants!


  5. January 24, 2011 8:57 pm

    I hate to paint but like having painted. I am a terror with corners and absolutely despise painter’s tape, and I’m sure it’s mutual. One of the first rooms we pained in our house was the bathroom. It’s, like full, all-out RED. It’s my favorite room in the house, and it still surprises me a little when I walk in and am awash in such a wonderful, powerful color.

    PS: Jack and his pockets remind me of the little boy in The Snowy Day. So sweet.

  6. January 25, 2011 12:55 am

    As you know, we spent the weekend in the throws of renovation. Well not renovation exactly, mostly completion. Of our basement. It’s been a work in progress since we built…an ongoing behemoth of a space that we hope will soon feel cozy and comfortable and complete to just hang out in. So we soothed ourselves in some very colourful paint (green, and purple and beige) and hid not from snow but from the very deep cold. My oldest didn’t get out of his jammies from Friday night until Sunday night. That is what home is all about.

  7. January 25, 2011 4:01 am

    Love the pictures. (Yes, scaffolding looks lovely in the white stuff.) But most beautiful – your painting assistant! Too cute!

  8. January 25, 2011 6:42 pm

    When I lived in Texas, snow days were so welcome. We would catch the flurries in the window hoping that they would accumulate so that we could lay down on the snow and make angels. Sounds like Jack loved the snow.

  9. deb permalink
    March 18, 2011 10:52 pm

    I am Leslie’s cousin and had white walls in the house that we built ourselves, also. Great place to start and now I have serene colors and circus (or so my hubby says) colors and whatever the color, it seems to suit the room, me and my home. The point being it is my home!!!!

  10. deb permalink
    March 18, 2011 10:53 pm

    oh, and I paint in my nightgown.

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