Winter has come


There is a quietness outside. Everyone is still asleep, and it is still dark. But there is a glow coming through the blinds in each window. Snow is falling for the first time this season, illuminating everything that was once drab, gray and colorless into a luminance of white. The snow muffles the sound of everything, like a big cozy blanket wrapped around our house. When cars pass, I only hear a little bit of the wind, and mostly the crunch of the tires.

When they wake, any second now, the boys will grab snowsuits, hats mittens and boots before their cereal bowls. My second son must always be the first one to go down the green slide on the tree house in our backyard. He’ll wipe the snow clean with his bottom before he hits the ground with that big smile. Then, he’ll grab a pile of snow and have it ready to throw on the next brother who comes down after him. Then, they’ll come in for breakfast, rosy red nose cheeks and all.

Once, the littlest two managed to get the red sled on the slide, and tried to cannon ball themselves down the slide — on the sled — with snow. You want a good laugh? Click here to see the video on You Tube. Here’s how to make snow ice cream.

Winter Has Come is an old, out-of-print story. This is my friend’s favorite story; she says it makes her feel peaceful, and she loves to read it to her children. So here is a story to read to your children on a snowy day just like this one. If there’s no snow — just show them the video and have them pretend. (Thanks Christine!)

Winter has come
by Wendy Watson


On the day that it started to snow, Mother said, “Winter is coming now. I can smell it in the air.”


The children sniffed.
“where?” they asked her.
“what does it smell like?”


Mother sniffed.
“It smells cold,” she said.
“Cold, and starry and dark.”


The children sniffed and sniffed, but they couldn’t smell anything.


They ran to Father.
“can you smell winter coming?” they asked him.
Father sniffed. “Yes, I smell frost and ice, and snow piled up to my ears.”
“We want to smell it too” said the children/
“You will,” said Father.


“Come with us, now. We’re going to get ready.”
“Ready for what?” asked the children.
“Ready for winter, ” said Mother.
“Ready for warm toasty fires, and baked apples, and long, deep nights.”


The gathered acorns and walnuts, hickory nuts and hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, and stuffed them into burlap bags.
They hunted in the grass for apples and corn and pears and parsnips and piled them into baskets and boxes.
And while they hunted and gathered snowflakes dusted their faces, melted on their tongues, and sprinkled white over their shoulders and the world.


“Do you smell winter yet?” asked Father.
“We smell something cold , and secret and quiet,” said the children.
“That’s winter, ” said Father.
They carried home the bags and boxes, and baskets and sacks, and piled them on the pantry shelves.


“Now we need wood, ” said Father.
So they went out again in to the whispering snow, knee-deep now, heavy and white.
They gathered twigs and sticks, and branches and stumps, pile after pile, and pulled them home through the deep, powdery snow.
When they finished, the shed was piled to the ceiling with wood, and all around outside the snow was as high as their waists.
It was getting dark.


“Look! It’s stopped snowing!” said Father.
They all climbed to their lookout hill, tumbling and squealing in the deep snow.
They saw stars, and the moon, and more stars and more stars, and more stars behind the other stars.
“Oh!” cried the children.
“Let’s fly away int the sky for ever and ever!”
and they stretched out their arms as hard as they could to the stars over their heads.
But their toes were cold, and their noses hurt, and their stomachs grumbled for food.


“Let’s save some stars,” said Mother.
“so we can remember the night.”
“How?” asked the children.
“Like this, ” said Mother.
and she scooped a star into each of their paws.
“Now hold tight, and don’t forget.”


“Has winter come, then?” asked the children, as they trudged home.
“Part of it,” said Father.


They shook the snow off their heads and their feet and their tails, and went inside to where Mother lit candles, and hung nightgowns to warn by the roaring fire.


“We smell hot cider!” said the children.
Mother smiled.
“That’s winter!” she said.


They popped corn and drank cider, and roasted apples and nuts and pears, and curled on pillows in front of the fire while Father told stories.


“What do you smell now?” whispered Mother.


“We smell warm beds, and pine cones burning and apple cores sizzling o the hearth,” the children whispered back.
“That’s winter, ” whispered Mother.


Coals dropped onto the bricks, the branches of the trees outside cracked in the cold, the candles began to burn out.


“Time for bed,” whispered Mother.
She tucked the children, one by one under a thick down quilt.
They snuggled deep into the warm bed.
In their paws they held their stars, and they remembered the blue-black sky and how they wanted to fly away into it for ever and ever.
Apples and roasted nuts drifted through the air, snow brushed their ears, their noses tingled deliciously with cold, they dark spun slowly around them.


“We smell sleep coming, and a long night,” whispered the children drowsily.
“Is this winter?”
“Yes,” whispered Father.
“Yes,” whispered Mother.
“This is winter.”


The last candle sputtered out, the last coal popped lazily and faded, the room melted away into sleep and the starry sky.




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9 comments to “Winter has come”
  1. Beautiful links.
    I don’t associate snow with silent stillness, sadly – I associate it with the loud buzz of snowmachines and snowplows and the sound of stuck cars in snow banks…

  2. Oh, that video! That video! I laughed so hard. Julia made me play it again for her. She kept asking, “Who are those boys?” I loved it!

    And the story. I loved that, too.

  3. We don’t have snow here but Christmas sure is in the air.

    The story is beautiful.

    In our hearts, we all have our own Christmas story- of when we were children. Of which we hope our children will carry in their hearts too – of memories we shared with them when they too were young.

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