Roy Exum: This Year’s Snow Angel

Sunday, February 9, 2020 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Age has nothing to do with it – whenever there is a snow of any measure, every person alive owes it to themselves to make a snow angel. It fortifies the soul, renews the kid inside of you. The snow itself cleanses your psyche far more than your face. You lie back in the fluffy stuff, look up at the trees in the Saturday silence and glory at the wonder of God’s ability to give even the smallest limb its very own fresh coat of white. Best of all, I am now in my seventh decade of never missing the blessing of a fresh snowfall and, yes sir, paying my due homage to nature with a new angel. Try it, I promise you’ll find that every opportunity is special.

The way you make a snow angel, as you will remember you learned before your brain wasn’t developed enough that it could complete a sentence, is to fall rump backwards in a patch of undisturbed snow and then lie back holding your legs and arms as straight as you can. Then you carefully fan your arms – creating the wings – and then move your legs back and forth in just the same way, making the angel’s dress. Then you get up, again standing as straight as you can so you don’t spoil your work of art, carefully walk south out of your newest creation and – voila! – there your angel will be. Why walk out of your snow angel to the South? Nobody ever looks at an angel’s feet, silly, but talk about feeling like you are one special somebody. Your signature on a snow angel works like a champ.

Saturday morning’s measurable snow was even more enjoyable when another grandparent shared, “My younger grandchildren have never seen snow like this before!” And then there is Gail Perry’s six-month-old boxer: “The dog went around in little circles …he still has no idea what just happened.” Another thing you’ll find is, while it might not be as loud as it once was, you’ll still squeal with delight lying in a field of still-falling snow, trying to catch falling flakes with just your tongue.

Most of my friends know that my right arm has been “ornamental,” for the most part, for the last 10 or 15 years. They also know the same disease that took away my elbow (osteomyelitis) necessitated the removal of my right leg above the knee a couple of months ago. When you lose a leg, everything changes – believe me -- so you learn to be crafty. You’ve got to go to “alternate ways and means,” but as over 200,000 amputees in the United States will swear, there is an easy fix for almost anything if you look long enough – even a one-sided snow angel.

Yes, it took a few tries but – by jingo -- the solution you’ll find is right in front of your face if you’ll just apply a fun thought process. Therefore I can speak with button-popping experience -- if ever you want to make a perfect snow angel with one side of your appendages missing, lie back in the snow and fan your able arm – never higher than shoulder height because angels’ wings never appear that high unless the angel is actually flapping them. Then you fan your able leg, making half of the angel.

Now comes the fool-proof trick!

Be warned – you’ll laugh hysterically – but it is so simple: Roll over! That’s right … the magic happens because while you rolled over, the half-done angel did not! Now while lying on your tummy instead of your back, your able arm and leg are on the snow angel’s untouched side. Thus, you can easily create the other half of the best snow angel you can remember in all your years on earth. By rolling over, you switched your able parts from the snow angel’s left to the right and – bingo! – the masters within The Royal Academy of Fine Arts should probably acknowledge your new-found artistic prowess with a nickname like Leonardo or something.

To someone who is smart, this revelation might not sound like much. But it does to a one-legged guy who is suddenly delighted the world-renowned Fillauer geniuses have almost completed an upper-limb prosthetic of cutting-edge design that will return significant usage and long-lost function to my right arm – which can then wonderfully support my new leg. And the promise of the most advanced leg prosthetic available anywhere in the world within just another month or two – there is no solution so small it doesn’t mean the world to me, or a whole lot of snow angels I’ve yet to meet.

* * *


1. Never let a day pass that you don’t embrace “your inner kid.”

2. Never let your physical limitations become an excuse. Never.

3. Don’t be intimidated when your dog’s expression is “What is this crazy idiot doing now?”

4. When stymied with a problem, it may help to just roll over … you can get a different look.

5. When one idea doesn’t work, another idea is already on the way.

6. When that next idea doesn’t work, laugh. (Remember what Edison said before his light bulb finally came on: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”)

7. When your car slides out of control on a hill in snow, for some reason it seems worse in a wheelchair.

8. Never try to make snow angels on the roof.

9. The other Edison quote ought to be the mantra of every amputee everywhere: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try … just one more time.”

10. When you are so proud of yourself for thinking to simply roll over to create the other side of a snow angel, never jump for joy with only one leg in the snow.

11. When you bust your rump after trying to jump with just one leg in the snow, always remember: You are in perfect position to make a new snow angel.

12. Every time it snows, always … always … make a snow angel.

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