Celebrating my birthday this past weekend, in the midst of a pandemic, was different, to say the least. Not only were we stuck at home, but also it snowed. In April. I cannot recall this ever happening. Cold, yes. Snow, no.
So, I said to Al, “Let’s build a snowman!” He was surprised, because I never suggest anything that could make my hands cold, but he was also an enthusiastic participant.
When I was a kid, I loved making snowmen. I would stay outside in our front yard, rolling each ball of snow, arranging and decorating, until I was frozen myself. Back then, I didn’t care. I have a dim memory of doing this late one afternoon, the snow tinted blue as darkness fell, mittened fingers totally numb, but still feeling joyful in the act of creating.
Of course, the snow has to be just the right consistency for construction purposes, and we were in luck. Big, fat, pasty flakes had fallen all morning, a few inches worth, the kind of wet snow that gloms together into heavy blobs when you scoop up a handful. We headed out the front door and got to work.
With a shovel, Al created a mound for the base. We slapped on more snow globs to round it out a bit, and then I rolled two very heavy balls for the middle and head (needed Al’s help to stack them). We added stones for eyes and buttons. I found a couple of twigs from a fallen tree branch (very windy last week) for arms. Al added what was left of our horseradish from Passover for a nose, and contributed an old baseball cap. Together, we secured the finishing touch—a green bandana for a face mask. And so, in about twenty minutes, “Covie” was complete.
As we worked, a few neighbors walked by with their dog and voiced their approval. I took Covie’s portrait on my phone and headed inside. My mittens were soaked, just like that day long ago, and my fingers icy, but it was worth it.
Other birthday activities included reading a novel, listening to an inspiring podcast, enjoying birthday greetings from friends and family, catching up with my sister on the phone. In the afternoon, we had a Zoom party with my daughters, complete with a cake baked by Al, and an online card game that kept us laughing for a couple of hours. In the evening, we marked the occasion by making contributions to a variety of non-profits that are helping during the pandemic. This felt good. We capped off the day watching a movie online.
Throughout, I was in an upbeat mood. (This was helped by not reading any news.) For a cooped-up birthday during the scariest experience of my 66 years, it was lovely, memorable, and a good lesson in how much each moment is shaped by how we decide to approach it.
Now, if only the pandemic could end as quickly as Covie melted . . .