It is January 21 and we haven’t had very much snow in western Augusta County, Virginia — just a few inches in two storms this season. The weather this week is mild for this time of year — the forecast calls for low 60s, the infamous “January thaw.”
Meanwhile, I’m longing for a really good snow, and that made me think of a children’s book that was a Christmas gift to nine-year-old daughter Katy for our first Christmas in the Shenandoah Valley in 1996.
“When Will it Snow?” is beautifully written and illustrated by Bruce Hiscock, circa 1995, who wrote in his dedication in the book, “To my good friends, and to everyone whose spirits soar when the first snowflakes fall. Special thanks go my nephew Will as Robin.”
The words fell happily on my ears: “… everyone whose spirits soar when the first snowflakes fall.”
I somewhat longingly leafed through the pages today remembering the years reading that book to my children as we waited for the first snow. Some years it came in October … other years it was more elusive. We knew what Robin felt like as he wondered when white flakes would finally fall from the sky:
Robin is ready for snow. Every morning he rushes to the window hoping to see the old meadow covered in white, but winter is late this year. His mom patiently tries to help him wait, as together they prepare for the long North Country season.
In the fields and woods around Robin’s house, the animals are getting ready, too. The deer mouse is storing seeds. The snowshoe hare has grown a white coat, and the fox with three legs is trying to hunt again.
Luminous watercolor illustrations show busy winter preparations in town and in the woods, while Robin and the animals wait for that one hour when the world is magically changed by the first snowfall.
The bio on the back flap of the hardcover book tells about author and illustrator Bruce Hiscock. All these years later, I find it ironic that he grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where my Texas niece attended and graduated from the University of Michigan in 2017, something that was not even on the horizon during the years we were reading the story out loud:
Bruce Hiscock grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he spent many winter days in buckle boots sledding down the snow-covered hills. When he was eleven, his family moved to Shemya, Alaska, where the snowdrifts sometimes covered the door and windows of their house.
Later, curious about how things work, Bruce went on to study science and chemistry in college, but he always kept a sketchbook and made time for drawing. He found that learning both science and art provides a good balance for exploring nature and the world.
In this book, all of the animals are based on the real inhabitants of the woods around the author’s house. He first saw the three-legged gray fox on a cold winter night, searching under the bird feeder for seeds. “I knew right away I must feed her, Bruce said, “and so I put out a little dog food on the snow each evening to keep her from starving.”
Bruce lives in Porter Corners, New York, on the edge of the Adirondack Mountains. Every year he and his friends eagerly await the first snowfall, and the cross-country skiing that follows.
I flipped to the first page with the opening words of the book … “The north country was waiting for winter to begin. … so far, not a single snowflake had fallen. Even high on the hills the ground was still bare. Winter was late….”
So I will continue to look at the long-range weather forecast for the Shenandoah Valley and wonder, “When will it snow?”
Read more about “When Will It Snow?” from Bruce Hiscock on his website as he shares how the book came to be and the inspiration he drew from his surroundings.
Lynn Mitchell educated her children at home for 16 years and was part of leadership in North Carolina’s Iredell County Home Educators (ICHE) and Virginia’s Parent Educators of Augusta County Homes (PEACH). Her son graduated from Harrisonburg’s James Madison University (JMU) in 2007 with a BS in Computer Science and a minor in Creative Writing. Her daughter graduated from Staunton’s Mary Baldwin College in 2012 with a BS in Sustainable Business and a minor in Marketing. Lynn and her husband live in Augusta County located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The story of how she began her homeschool journey can be found here (see Back in the homeschool classroom: Blazing new trails).
Other titles in the “Back in the homeschool classroom” series by Lynn R. Mitchell:
– Concerns Addressed as Optimism Grows (January 2017)
– Halloween (October 2016)
– Summer Prep for the New Year (July 2016)
– When Will It Snow? (December 2015)
– Thomas Jefferson’s Quote (October 2015)
– Reading out loud to our children (July 2015)
– Did Terry McAuliffe understand the ‘Tebow Bill’ he vetoed? (April 2015)
– ‘Tebow Bill’ Fails to Garner Support to Override Governor’s Veto (April 2015)
– The Virginian-Pilot is wrong about homeschool sports ‘entitlement’ (February 2015)
– ‘Snowflake’ Bentley … Studying the Beauty of Winter (February 2015)
– ’50 reasons homeschooled kids love being homeschooled’ (November 2014)
– Rob Bell’s Tebow Bill (September 2014)
– Summer Vacation Is Almost Over (August 2014)
– Grown son’s first home (April 2014)
– Support group vs Co-op (February 2014)
– Where it all began … blazing new trails (January 2013)
– Grown son’s first home (July 2013)
– Staying in touch with homeschool friends (July 2013)
– New Year’s Eve (December 2012)
– More sleep = homeschoolers happier, healthier than public school students? (April 2013)
– Using Shenandoah National Park as your classroom (March 2013)
– Rainy days (May 2013)
– A chance encounter (June 2013)
– Autumn (October 2012)
– The rain rain rain came down down down (April 2012)
– Why we teach our own (April 2012)
– Casey (April 2012)
– The wedding … letting go (September 2012)
– The pain of grief (August 2012)
– When faced with a challenge … no whining (April 2012)
– The simple wisdom of Winnie the Pooh (August 2012)
– First day of school (September 2012)
– The rise of homeschooling (February 2012)
– Hot summer days (July 2011)
– Constitutional lessons and the Judicial branch of government (March 2012)
– Mary Baldwin commencement 2012 … SWAC Daughter graduates with honors (May 2012)