A Snow Surplus Can Pay Big Dividends


The jaws of hunger threatened to tear apart our household as my wife opened the office door and said, “Honey, we have nothing for breakfast unless there’s an egg in the chicken coop. We only need one egg.” Having just been outside an hour earlier, I knew our young hens hadn’t bequeathed a single egg to us that morning. With very little hope I left my work station, bundled up, and waded through growing snowdrifts to check for a golden egg that would guarantee nourishment for the entire family. Opening the door to the coop, I was greeted with a still glistening newly laid egg. A miracle!

I believe most people raising a backyard flock of chickens have similar stories, but for us this one is unique. It came on the third day of our recent blizzard, the third day in a row that the kids were home from school, and our cupboards were nearly empty of several key staples. I work from home, so as far as I’m concerned a blizzard could last a  week or more, and the inconvenience would be minimal. Not having food for a hungry family, while being completely occupied by work, blindsided me though.

I have found that being snowed in results in more appreciation for things great and small, an opportunity for neighborliness to flower, and greater clarity. It is beneficial in this affluent society for many of our options and choices to be cut off temporarily, so we may come to focus on the basics. That which we claim to be our priorities, or the reason for our existence, if you will.

One thing we’ve done with our kids this past month is remove television and computer time all the way up to Christmas Eve. We’re even paying them a small amount as a reward to help them save for a big ticket item. They have become grateful for the extra time at their disposal to do the things they find most satisfying, such as reading, chores, drawing, playing together, and many hours spent outside working on forts. My daughter describes the experiment as a complete success, and is thankful for having more time to work on presents she is making for Christmas.

For part of those three days my wife was wishing for a little TV time since I was unavailable to help with the demands of the household, but after a few hurdles were overcome everything has gone far better than if screen time was one of the focal points of the day for our kids, as it had become. There is a demonstrable improvement in behavior, and their intelligence and creativity has had more room to blossom. Moments of peace are more frequent in our household now. Not having that crutch to fall back on is paying big dividends. Perhaps this will become an annual event, so we don’t permanently forget what we’ve learned in the future.

Living intentionally requires vigilance and a daily fight to beat back the often negative effects of our society’s over-emphasis on efficiency, productivity and consumerism. Otherwise the downstream impact results in a downgrade of relationships.

Next time the snow hits try to see it as a child does, with a sense of wonder and awe. Enjoy holing up in your little hobbit hole, take the opportunity to share a pot of tea with your loved ones, sit there and ruminate, play a board game as a family activity, or put together a puzzle.

In our house the sound of the canary is certainly uplifting, and the occasional chickadees at the bird feeder are a delight. Pay attention to the small things that are often ignored, but may be more strikingly beautiful than even that newly washed car in the garage, finished report at work, or the asset allocation of your 401K. Be thankful for this wonderful base of snow that could possibly be the beginning of, dare I say it, perhaps 4 months of cross country skiing. When is the last time we had that? Or how about actually having a bonafide use for snowshoes? Remarkable! This season we are blessed with multiple opportunities to enjoy one another both inside and outside.

Photo credit: darkroastedblend.com

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