When I first moved to Rochester in 1989, I had a three-month-old baby and a three-year-old toddler. We moved to our new house in December. We came from a town about 10 hours to our south, warm enough to snow occasionally, but mild enough that on a special year, crocuses would greet the warm air in February and snow drops would always appear no later than March. 1989 was the year of Rochester snow. My backyard, as lovely as it was, was a winter wonderland in December with heavy snow laden trees, gracing our yard as far as my eye could see. Forty days later the winter wonderland had turned into my winter nightmare. Day after day after day of snow, cold, and grey…snow, cold and grey….snow, cold and grey. Fifty days passed and then sixty. Hardly a day where snow didn’t fill the air. I felt trapped in a winter hell. The Rochester house contained me and my two young children like a prison. With baby and toddler in tow, a husband immersed in a new job, and no friends to visit without a 10 hour drive, I slowly fell into winter despair.
That winter was over twenty years ago. Since that first winter, I have grown to love the season. Memories of my children growing up and standing on what seemed like mountains of snow in our driveway as they waited for the morning school bus, trips to Bristol Mountain where the family learned to ski, snowshoeing in Mendon Park on a quiet winter morning, walking on a snow covered path, bird seed in hand, calling to the chickadees to land and eat from our hands, watching the snow over coffee, this time with a friend. Memories of my young children, layered with snow pants and mittens, exploring our backyard and decorating it with snow angels, igloos and snowmen—these memories have also found a home in my mind with that first Rochester snow memory. The house we moved into in that wintry season transformed into a home as the memories built beyond grey, cold and snow.
I have learned to appreciate what the season brings by enjoying the snow and the cold. My friends from southern Ohio, where I grew up, always are amazed that we can get a foot of snow and it is cleaned in a day, and the Rochestarian life goes on with barely a hiccup while their southern city gets slammed with an inch or two of snow and school and the city closes down for a week. Life doesn’t stop in Rochester in winter, unless you are a new mom who is new to the region and doesn’t know how to start her new life. As I learned the land I now call home and joined in on what the snow has to offer, I have found that life with snow and cold is quite enjoyable.
My children are grown. I am no longer living in my family home that originally greeted me with snow loneliness. Recently, I spent a quiet morning looking out into my backyard of a different view, coffee in hand noticing the heaviness of the snow with quiet gratitude.
Much has changed since that winter of 1989. Our family has experienced year after year of Rochester snows. The three month old and three year old are now young adults of 23 and 26. Winter despair was replaced by winter enjoyment and that enjoyment evolved into home. The land of loneliness has become a known—a place of loveliness—a place that is home.