The Seasons: Winter  by Jane Marcet

The Fall of Snow

"Oh, Mamma!" cried Willy (who was a little boy, between three and four years old), "come and look at the window, see what a number of bits of paper are falling." He then attempted to count them—"One, two, three, four, five—oh, I can never count them, there are so many."

Mamma, who was not yet up, began to rub her eyes, and looking at the window, saw that large flakes of snow were falling. She knew that Willy had seen snow the winter before, but he was then only two years and a half old, and had forgotten it. As soon as she was dressed she opened the window, and told Willy to put out his hand and catch some of the white flakes which were falling; several fell into his hand, but before he could draw it in to show them to his Mamma they were gone.

"Where can they be gone, Mamma?" asked Willy; "I am sure they did not slip through my fingers, for I held them close together, and they did not fly away, or I should have seen them go."

"No, my dear, they are melted by the warmth of your hand." Mamma then explained to him that what he saw falling was snow; that snow was made of water, which, in winter, when the weather is very cold, freezes, and turns to snow. Willy said that the snow had felt very cold to his hand.—"But your hand was very warm to the snow, and so it unfroze it, and turned it back to water." Willy looked at his hand, and found that the palm, on which the snow had fallen, was wet.

"That is the snow which the warmth of your hand has turned to water, and that is called melting the snow."

Willy wondered, for all this was quite new to him.

"But, look Mamma; the snow on the ground is not melted?"

"Cannot you guess why, Willy? try—what was it made your hand melt the snow?"

"Why, Mamma, you said it was the warmth of my hand. Oh yes, I do guess it now, Mamma; the ground is not warm like my hand, so it cannot melt the snow."

Willy could not help looking at the pretty flakes of snow. The snow fell so fast that the ground was soon entirely covered with it, and he saw a number of little boys playing with it: they took it up in their hands and made it into balls, and then threw it at each other. At first Willy was afraid they would hurt each other, but when he saw that the ball of snow broke all to pieces when it struck one of the boys, and that the boy only laughed, and began gathering up the snow into a ball to throw back again at his play-fellow, he saw that the snow did them no harm. He also longed to go out to play with the snow; but his Mamma told him he must wait, till the fall of snow was over, and then she would take him out, and he should play with the snow that was on the ground. Willy was very impatient; he stood looking at the window, and thought the snow would never cease; but he was accustomed to obey, and to obey without grumbling.

"Where can all this snow come from, Mamma?" said he.

"From the clouds, my dear; those black clouds up yonder. They pour down rain, when the weather is not very cold; but when it is very cold the drops of rain are frozen into flakes of snow."

"Oh how I wish the sun would shine," said Willy, "and the snow fall no longer, that I might go out."

"The sun does shine," said his Mamma; "but you cannot see it, because those black clouds hide the sun from you."

"Oh no, Mamma," cried Willy, "there is no sun now any where; look all round, there is nothing but dark clouds."

Mamma smiled, and lifting up her black silk apron, so as to hide her face, exclaimed—"Oh, poor Mamma, she has no more face."

"Yes, but she has," cried Willy, laughing and peeping behind the apron; "it is only the black apron that hides it."

Just then the clouds began to part, and Willy saw a beam of sunshine coming from between them; and he said, "I think, Mamma, I can get a peep behind the corner of the black apron that hides the sun."

"The sun always shines when it is daylight, for it is the sun which makes it daylight."

Soon afterwards the sun shone brightly, the snow ceased falling, and Willy ran to put on his things to go out.

"I am ready, Mamma," said he, as he came back into her room, with his hat on, and a warm shawl.

"That will not do now, Willy; you must ask Ann to put you on a great coat, for it is quite winter weather; it is a frost, and this shawl is not warm enough: besides, you must put on your little boots, for the snow would get into your shoes."

"I should not mind it if it did," replied Willy.

"Ah, but the warmth of your feet would do like the warmth of your hands,—it would melt the snow into water, which would wet your stockings; and then, perhaps, you would catch cold, and be obliged to stay in doors instead of playing with the snow."

Willy thought he should not like that at all; besides, having never worn a pair of boots, he wished very much to put them on for the first time. He thought Ann was a terribly long time in lacing them, so impatient was he to be out; and he began kicking about his legs to hurry her. But she told him that only made her longer, for while his feet were jigging about she could not get the lace into the holes, which were very small, the boots being new. So William found that the best way was to be quiet; then Ann went on lacing as fast again, and had soon finished.

Willy strutted about in his new boots, showed Mamma how he looked like Papa in boots, thought himself a little man, and was so much pleased that he forgot the snow; till Mamma asked him whether he had put on boots to walk about on the carpet.

"Oh no!" cried he, suddenly recollecting the snow; "let us go, Mamma; let us go out directly."

Then Mamma took his hand, and they went down stairs, and when they opened the street door, there came in such a cold wind, that Willy could not help exclaiming—"Oh, how cold it is!" But he soon forgot the cold in the pleasure he took in trampling in the snow: he found that it was very soft, and that every step he took his feet made a deep print in the snow, for it was now lying about three inches thick on the ground.

"Indeed, it would have been over my shoes," cried he; "but it cannot get into my boots, they are so much higher, and they keep my feet so nice and warm; but then, Mamma, my warm feet will melt the snow."

"No," replied his mother; "there are your boots between your feet and the snow, and the warmth of your feet will hardly get through them. Besides, if it did, the melted snow would not get through your boots very easily to wet your feet."

Then Willy began kicking up the snow, as he saw the other boys do to amuse themselves; and he met Harry, one of his little friends, who was come out to play with the snow also; so they played together, gathering up as much snow with their hands as they could hold, and squeezing it together into a ball as hard as they could, and then throwing it at each other: they ran after each other with their snowballs, and played all sorts of gambols; till, at last, Willy cried out—"Well, I am sure it is hot enough now, and I don't want my great coat."

"The weather is not at all warmer than it was," said his Mamma; "but you have been running about so much that you are both very hot, and if you pulled off your great coat now, the cold air would blow upon you."

"Oh, how pleasant that would be!" cried Willy, interrupting her.

"But," continued she, "it would certainly give you cold, and make you very ill, perhaps oblige you to stay within doors."

Then Willy thought it better to keep on his great coat, though he was so hot. Just then Harry, running after him, threw him down, and he rolled about in the snow, crying out, "How nicely this cools me!"

But his Mamma would not allow him to remain there, and told him it was now time to go home. Willy was very, very sorry to leave such pleasant sport, and begged so hard to stay a little longer, that his Mamma knew not how to refuse him, so she granted him ten minutes more; and looked at her watch to know when the ten minutes would be over.

"Harry," said Willy, laughing, "I wish I could get inside the watch, and stop it!" Then they agreed that, as they must soon go in, they had better each make a very large snowball, to take home with them; and when Mamma called Willy, saying the ten minutes were over, he had made a snowball nearly half as big as his head, and he carried it home with him.