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Sometimes snow is tender. It can come so soft it quiets me like the sound of a mother’s voice long distance.

Today, so thick, it deafens the sound of the plow truck that has been politely following Blue the dog and I down the street. Waiting for us to hear it and move the hell out of the way.

Oh gosh, I am sorry! I wave and move us into the deep snow off road. The plow men smile and pass us. Snow can make us smile when it is this soft and thick. Or it can make us crazy.

We walk on down the middle of the road again. Blue sniffs the air, the ancestral Husky blood pulsing from her head to her curling white tail, pushing her forward.

Pulling, pulling.

Like the twenty-somethings we have. Spiraling around us like flurries. But mostly like planets, pulling away from Chris and I now like gravity. Determined to rotate in their own orbit.

The boys are pulling away. Of course they are, right? It’s enough to make a control freak parent go insane.

One, face timing, excited before his class starts. Plans for after school storm his brain. He talks to me while he ties flies and props the phone so that I can see the fly he is working on and the feathers and fluff floating in the room. They swirl and land soft, a colorful southern version of the snow falling here. I want to make his plans come alive. Make his dreams come true.

One in California, face timing me to see Blue and the snow, two weeks into Pandemic unemployment. But ideas about what comes next come tumbling out of his head like an avalanche. One idea smothered and buried by the next. I want to dig him out. Put him on top of the mountain.

Or like the one home here installing sound in big houses. He calls to tell me he is going crazy in the house he’s working in - the six and seven year olds there are screaming. They want to go out and play in the snow. The teacher, he hears over Zoom class, asks the students if they will build a snowman after school today.

“NO!” Scream the kids. “NOW! We want to go out NOW!”

He says the Mom looks pulled in two. He laughs that he is glad he doesn't have kids. And I tell him this is good birth control. He laughs, as joyful as a school snow day. I want to bottle up his joy, save it for a bad day ahead. Store up a damn closet full of joy.

Blue and I find a street that is not plowed and I take it, thinking her paws will be safe from salt. But there is unseen pure ice under this winter blanket. And I do one of those twenty minute, slow motion, arm whirling falls where my life flashes in front of me. I clearly see my Doctor, after I got the osteoporosis diagnosis. “It’s no big deal,” she said, “just don’t fall!”

It’s a slide-fall. One leg in front and one leg in back. With Blue pulling me forward. I think of my friend Wendy Norquist, as I land with my wrists at my sides like Simone Biles. Wendy tried all summer to get me into the splits so I could try out for cheerleading in the fall.

I never could get all the way down. Didn’t make cheerleading. She was so tender with my feelings, I think, as I sit on the street with the quiet snow falling around me.

Here I am now in the splits, wondering if something broke. And I find out Blue is no Lassie. She does not come to me, lick my face, bark for help, stand protectively at my side.

Rather, she stands ready, facing forward, impatient as a twenty year old. Which actually gives me great calm in this storm. If I go down, the world will still go on without me. Everyone is pulling away. And that’s right and ok, right? They will come back; tender, from time to time, as sure as the snow falls in February in Illinois.

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