Hayward, Wisconsin is a place where it snows. The flakes were flying as we drove into town last Thursday for Thanksgiving. The white blanket covered the ground and the fallen logs where we walked through the woods the next day. Every gust of wind through the branches of the pines sent snow raining down all around us. At first, the cold was frightening but as I stayed out in it and worked up a sweat, I got used to it. Now, four days past Thanksgiving, it is snowing again and this time it’s a storm big enough to deserve a name. Cleon.
Our trip into town proved the roads were icy with wet slush. The sky is one solid, gray cloud that descends down to meet the horizon, cutting the visibility to about a quarter mile. Variations on muted gray, black and white with a little brown thrown in are the only colors nature has today. Things would seem dull if it weren’t for the colored lights and Christmas decorations up and down the streets. Hayward is a small town, a very small town, but it is the only real town in quite a large area of forests and lakes. And it is large enough to have a Walmart, which was a very busy place today.
I grew up here, in the country outside of Hayward. I left and came back after I was married. My children were born while I lived here and although I’ve been away again for more than twenty years it is still very homelike to me. My parents and my brother and his family still live in a development on the edge of town, on land that once belonged to my grandfather. We visited Hayward last June when it was all shades of green, brilliant blue skies, fields full of flowers, flowing rivers, and more than it’s share of the world’s mosquitoes. Now it is different. It is white, very quiet, dark a good deal of the time, and there are no mosquitoes at all.
It is really quite magical to be able to stay in one place and have it change all around you. You would think you had been transported. I’m just sayin’ I am glad to be here for this first big snow of the year.