Snow Village

comments: 122


On Sunday, I put up my precious and most-beloved village, and saw snowflakes. For a few minutes, snow was there, and I watched at the window thinking it was an illusion. As nonchalantly as it started, it stopped. In that moment, I missed Illinois more than I can say.


I had a memory of standing in Ann's apartment in Hyde Park near the University of Chicago watching the snow pile up, later walking in our wool coats and leather boots to the Medici for a bowl of ravioli, and later watching Roman Holiday on her tiny TV as the snow continued to fall past the streetlights.


Until I moved to Oregon ten years ago, snow was a major part of my life. It's a major part of most Midwesterners' lives, really. There's a sort of camaraderie snow engenders that rain doesn't inspire. Snow seemed to unite us. I walked to Keystone Park with my pom-pom topped skates over my shoulder most Sundays. I'd meet Monica at the end of my street. At school she acknowledged me if necessary, but back in our neighborhood we had a secret, simpler life we rarely discussed beyond its borders. Underneath our jeans we'd wear long underwear, two pairs of socks. At the park, they'd plow the snow into stout, frozen berms and then flood the big field, adding layer after layer of ice. We'd change into our skates in the old warming house then skate for hours and hours, practicing figures, chasing and fleeing, learning to spin, thinking up complicated routines and judging each other harshly for our efforts. We were not good, and neither of us had ever had a lesson, but we skated in that park every winter for years. Behind the huge, gnarled oak trees of our old, pretty town the sun set low and glowing. It was so, so cold. I'd walk home as it was getting dark, and the house would be dark and very warm, my mom making sauce, my dad smoking and watching Channel 11. I'd stand at the sink, frozen-cheeked and wild-eyed, and run my hands under warm water until I could feel my fingers again. Then I'd stand there, still and warming, until someone told me to shut the water off already, and move along.


That is so beautiful!

Right now Oak Park/River Forest has a couple inches of snow, capped with a crunchy layer of ice. I hope my girls grow up with the same kind of wonderful memories you have of these special old towns.

You are an amazingly gifted writer. Every time I click over, you've posted something simply delightful. Thank you.

what a beautifully written memory. I love your site so much-thanks for the inspiration.

Well said. Skating has always been a big part of my life in that same way. There is something very different about skating outdoors. I always loved a little dusting of snow on top of the ice to show me where I'd skated in scrolly swirls. Great memories.

Illinois misses you too. :) My first Christmas away from the Midwest was in San Francisco, where snow at any time would surely be disastrous. It was then that I missed more than anything stepping out from my grandmother's toasty kitchen into the cold, eerily quiet Michigan air, watching the snowflakes lazily hit the ground. This can be such a magical place, it really can.

Oh, yes! I remember, too! The warming hut sold hot chocolate that scalded our tongues...

I love your cute little village!

Nancy from Northern California says: December 10, 2007 at 07:27 PM

As I read your blog I was transported back to a similar memory but mine was with my best friend Peggy at Maplewood Park in Rochester, New York where we spent hours skating and thinking we lived in the best place in the world...

Chris Howard says: December 10, 2007 at 07:44 PM

The high is going to be in the 70's for the rest of the week. Sometimes I don't think I'll ever see snow again...

Thanks for the Midwest snowy memories! I was telling Josh just the other night about the blizzard of '77. Being snowed in our house in Granville, Ohio for one week, eating bean soup my mother made the day before it hit for every meal - except a couple of days we had eggs and bacon to clear out the fridge (tells you the kind of cook my mother was). My sister sent out the National Guard to rescue us... they hiked our mile long driveway to bring us to shelter and my dad turned them away saying we were fine with our two fireplaces. Oh, I was a mad teen for him doing that! Then I made him get on his CB and send out a rescue to our closest friends who hours later made their way with a snowmobile to the rescue. I was happy to see civilization!

it's funny because now i live not too far from where you were writing about, but nancy from northern california and i grew up in the same place. snow, home, it all becomes synonymous. they're saying that we're (quad-cities) getting an ice storm tonight at 2am, and i just hope it's enough to cancel school. i don't really feel like chasing the kindergarteners around on an inch of ice. even if it's in my blood. i had green pompoms on my ice skates. we'd skate on a huge frozen pond behind the neighbors house. it was pretty magical.

I had no idea you were from Illinois!? I was born in Indiana and spent many family vacations in Chicago.

Just love your little village. Was that a pattern, a set or collected over time or did you make them all? It is really beautiful with the light coming through. I enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for sharing. I come from Florida, now living in Texas. I've not seen much snow. But I do love the rain.

gloria g. Richards, TX

What a beautiful post and such a lovely village! We were excited to see the snow, too. I'm having a hard time explaining to my four-year-old that we might not have a white Christmas.
~Angela :-)

I just love your little village! My mom had a full village set and I so wish i still had it!

Your little village is so sweet and magical! :)

Having just come home from figure skating tonight (taking lessons again at the ripe old age of 27 after 16 years away) I still find myself nostalgic for childhood skating memories like yours. Uneven lake ice; too-hot-chocolate; frozen toes and noses and cozy car rides home when it was all over.

Thank you so very much for your loyalty to your readers. You inspire me very much and I always mean to send you an email and some before/after pictures. Thank you again for sharing with us.

I live in Southern California, but I am from Chicago so I know how you feel about missing the snow. I miss making snowmen and trying to catch snowflakes on my tongue. I hope to return one day but I don't think Shawn could handle the below 0 temps. He had a rough night when it was 40 something the other day.

What a festive snow village you have!

You captured such a beautiful memory from your childhood and really made it come alive! Thank you for sharing it with us. What a treasure our memories can be! Thank you for the reminder!


Love that so much! Thank you for sharing those thoughts and stories. It reminded me of the times when I too, would spend hours every weekend skating with a best friend at the park. Funny how the cold never bothered us then, you know? I didn't have the perfect childhood, but I do have many happy memories and skating with Julie was one of them. I wonder where she is today....

Hi A,
I wrote you an email today and didn't hear back and I am afraid I might have the wrong address...let me know!! your house looks so pretty.

Dear Alicia.....that post knocked me out! I'm a SoCal girl, but you just took me to Illinois....absolutely lovely!

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at