This is the winter that snow is a big deal to Cooper. He plays in it, eats it, marvels at it with exclamations of Uh oh and excited pointing. And of course, with the snow comes the incredible excitement of Cooper's very own shovel.

Nicholas saw a red, child-sized shovel for sale at Menard's. We went back as a family for other things, and we swung by the shovel aisle. We picked one out and Cooper carried that red shovel through the whole store (panicking about letting go for a minute at checkout) and then managed to carry it in the truck to and from our little family pre-Christmas outing.

Every time we open the door to the garage, there is excited pointing and squeals of joy, because the shovel is in view.

We've since had a few snowfalls requiring shoveling, and Cooper has been able to help, though the dexterity required to operate a shovel is a little tricky when he has his mittens on. It's so sweet to see my boys working together, or at least to see Nicholas working and our little boy watching.

Before one particular snowfall, we had a coating of ice over everything. We lost some large tree branches, but it was beautiful and fragile in such a cold way, like glass on the trees.

There is so much I love about the winter, the idea of a fresh blanket of snow, lazy flakes, or hurried, heavy flakes, eager to cover up what is underneath. The warmth and retreat of home and cozy drinks, and sweaters. Rosy cheeks and bundles of clothing, damp mittens and hats needing a place to dry, boots arrayed at the door--all evidence of that cold, fresh air, that requires forethought to be enjoyed, and always feels like it's worth the effort.

We've been playing in our yard quite a bit, or going for (slow) walks down the street to the park. I felt overwhelmed the other day, looking out at our backyard. I always thought I preferred pristine, untouched, fresh snow. That is, until I saw my footprints next to a little person's footprints, crisscrossing all over the yard. That is my new favorite.

And today, we played with some friends outside in the snow, sledding for the first time (for Cooper) and the first time for me since college, I think. Even on a cloudy day, the snow brightens things.

I love these words from the (beautiful) book Before Morning by Joyce Sidman:

"Let the air turn to feathers
the earth turn to sugar
and all that is heavy turn light."

Sometimes the snow lingers, sometimes it melts, but oh, the fleeting nature of this winter wonder makes it all the more magical.