God is blessing us with beautiful snow that has blanketed everything. Yes, because we live on a ranch, the snow does create more hard work. It's difficult feeding the animals and it takes about double the time to get chores done. But it's worth it. The moisture will pay off next spring. And the beauty we see through God's reflection in the snow is priceless.
My dad always looked forward to snow days. He'd venture out to the shop and build a toasty fire in the old pot-bellied stove. Usually, it was warmer in that shop than in the house. Many things would be accomplished in that shop on snow days.
If our neighbor, Slick Moreland, would finish feeding his cattle and could make it through the pasture, he'd come up and spend hours visiting with Dad in that shop. Sometimes they would work on a project, but more often than not, they would just visit. I miss those days.
I honed my basketball skills in that shop on snow days. The goal was obviously not a ten-footer, so I perfected my dunking technique...not that those particular skills paid off later. But the shooting and dribbling skills did get perfected and, more importantly, it meant quality time with Dad.
I loved watching Dad weld something. He could fabricate just about anything. And, I can weld much better than I can sew, which really isn't saying much. It's not my mom's fault that I can't sew. She tried teaching me. But I just wanted to be outside more than I wanted to spend time in the sewing room. I also learned how to change the oil in vehicles and how to do some basic auto mechanic work on snow days. Dad used to always tell me, "Monkey (that was his pet name for me...don't ask), if you're gonna drive, you've gotta know how to take care of your vehicle. Check the oil...the gas will take care of itself."
Watching Dad weld something seemed to mesmerize me. He'd always say, "Monkey, go get a welding helmet on. You can't watch me weld if you don't protect your eyes." And I'd grab an oversized helmet and sit and watch him fabricate something. There's just something about watching welding sparks dance on the table through a colored visor. It presents a different outlook on things...much like Dad would present a different outlook on things.
Dad and I made lots of things in that shop. We'd visit and build. Sometimes we'd "invent" something for Mom to put in the house. I don't know exactly how proud she was of some of those things, but, being the good mom she was, she always displayed them. I thought they were pretty special, but looking back on those times now, I think it was just more the time spent with Dad.
My dad's days are waning. He's under hospice care. He celebrated his 90th birthday in October. Last year I took a photo of he and Mom at Christmastime. He was in a rehab center, trying to build enough strength to move back to the apartment he and Mom share at assisted living. He did that because he's tough. He's made his living off the land. He's a survivor. This year I took a photo of he and our sons at Thanksgiving. His eyes lit up when they walked in the room. He doesn't talk much these days, but when he saw those two boys, he found some conversation deep within him.
This is most likely my dad's final Christmas on earth. And on this snow day, I really wonder what he's fabricating in the shop in his mind? I think I might venture out to the shop later today and see what there is to do. And Dad, Monkey's gonna put on her welding helmet cause "I've got to protect my eyes."