The San Juan Mountains are holding their first big winter snow where we live. For people who love the winter landscape and relish the chill of the air as the season arrives, it is a special time of year.

No one loves playing in the snow more than children (and the young at heart!)

In 1983, my sister and I owned Toh-Atin Publishing, a branch of our business that published limited-edition prints and posters. One of the first artists we worked with was Virginia Stroud, a Cherokee woman and an amazing painter from Oklahoma. I met her through the Indian Arts and Crafts Association, and we were good friends.

When we started publishing her work, we could not develop new images fast enough. She was one of the most famous artists in the country. While her themes were always based on Native people, their message was universal.

At the time, the local ski hill in Durango, primarily for kids, needed snowmaking to extend and guarantee the season. It was, and still is, in the middle of town and serves Durango's youth with a rope tow.


A group of people in town guaranteed the price of the snowmaking equipment. Some people gave as little as twenty dollars and others a thousand dollars, and we borrowed the money to buy the equipment.

To help pay it back, we published a poster from Virginia Stroud's painting called The Joys of Snow. The poster shows Native kids playing and enjoying winter. The original painting had sold, but Virginia, bless her heart, gave us the rights to use the image for a limited edition poster.

We partnered with the Ore House Restaurant in Durango and hosted a big party at the Gallery during Snowdown, Durango's Winter Celebration. Two hundred people showed up that night and paid a lot of money for the party to help pay for the snowmaking. They all got one of the posters, signed by Virginia.

The party became an annual event for years, but we never had another poster that generated the interest that Virginia's piece did.

I had honestly forgotten who owned the original painting until earlier this year when I got a call from the owner who said he was moving and wanted to know if we would sell the painting for him.

It was wonderful to see the piece again. It brought back wonderful memories of Virginia and how people worked together to create something special for kids and our community. I believe this painting captures the essence of winter and the joys of snow!

Virginia Stroud still paints. She has written and illustrated several books and designed furniture and clothing. She lives in Oklahoma and has been a diplomat with the State Department sharing Native American culture with the world.