Remember when…

It snowed again last night. We awoke to a beautiful blanket of snow that was deep enough to call off school, but not so deep that we are home bound. I should clarify…K-12 schools were called off…Craig headed off to another day of higher education at U of E. He is not the least bit amused when I tell him, excitedly, that there is no school today. Jim and I love to watch for our former schools to scroll across the bottom of the television screen. Somehow, it’s still exciting, even if it doesn’t affect our household any longer.

I’m sitting on our day bed in Jim’s “man crisis center” (also known as the den), and looked out at our backyard. By now, Jim has been out to shovel snow and to put out bird seed, so there are an assortment of birds, all jockeying for position on the feeder. One fat squirrel is winding his way down the dogwood tree and as he approaches the feeder, the birds scatter. It’s nice to be able to enjoy the view since sitting on the “south veranda”, as Jim calls our deck, is just a little too chilly today.

I remember waking up to snow as a child. I’d have the radio on, praying to hear those four precious words: EVSC is closed today! Going back to sleep was not an option…it was too exciting. I would throw on my clothes, slam down a bowl of Lucky Charms (or whatever my favorite cereal that week was), and rush through my chores (including shoveling the porches and a path to the garage). This way I would be ready the minute I could go round up my friends to play. Usually, nine o’clock was considered a descent enough time to knock on my neighbors’ doors.

The first activity of the day was shoveling snow at the homes of any elderly person in the neighborhood. It was just something we always did. Some neighbors would pay us…some not. But it didn’t matter…it was what we did. This was also a way to keep our minds and hands busy while we waited on those few kids who did go back to sleep.

If it was icy enough, the next thing we did was sledding. We lived across the highway from ISUE (now it’s called USI) and street in front of our house was excellent for sledding on. You could stand in front of our house, see any traffic coming for a quarter mile both directions. The street sloped down with a slight curve and it was challenging to maneuver. I remember hitting a neighbor’s mailbox more than once when I didn’t turn my sled at just the right moment.

After sledding, we all went back to my house. By age ten, I was an expert at making homemade hot chocolate. We’d usually warm up for a while, maybe catch the last half of The Price is Right. Then we’d head outside again and build a snow fort. Just one. Once we had it built, we would divide up into teams and grab a bat to see who got the fort.

The captain on one team would toss the bat to the captain of the other team. They would then take turns grabbing, just above the hand of the other until one person could “palm the end of the bat” with his/her fingers touching the hand of the other person. If they could do that, the other person would let go and the person holding the bat would then have to swing the bat over their head with it coming out of their hand. If they didn’t drop it, that team got the fort. If they dropped it, the other team got the fort. Once that was determined, we usually took a lunch break. We’d head home for one hour and them meet back by the fort and prepare for battle.

We usually had a set time, say fifteen minutes, for both teams to get organized. There were snowballs to be made and plans to be formed. Then the captains would meet in the middle, shake hands and prepare for battle. The captain of the team that had the fort would take a stick, put it in the middle of the fort and hang a “flag” on it. If the opposite team captured the flag, they would win. The way we played was if you were hit by a snowball, you had to retreat and try again. So a lot of strategy was involved to distract the other team and capture the flag.

Another thing we liked to do when it snowed was to play hide-n-go seek in the woods. Again, you had to be pretty creative, because your tracks would give you away. I would usually make another round of hot chocolate and take it in a thermos to the woods with us. Sometimes, the creek would be frozen over and we would get distracted and end up sliding on it instead.

Later in the afternoon, we would all head for home. After a hot bath, I would curl up in a corner and grab a book to read. We usually had a jigsaw puzzle going in the winter time, so that was always an option as well. We had a Franklin Stove in our living room and man, could that thing put out the heat. During the ’77-’78 blizzard, is served as both our only source of heat, but our cooking stove as well. My mom was an awesome cook, but there was something special about eating a hot dog roasted over the flame.

If the snow was just right, my mom would make snow ice cream. Talk about a brain freeze! This stuff was sure to give you one, but it was such a novelty that you couldn’t make yourself stop eating it. I made some when the boys were younger…kids from the neighborhood would come over and marvel at making ice cream from snow.

We took the boys sledding when they were younger and once, I even took Derek to snowboard down Reitz bowl in the middle of the night. But now, I enjoy the snow from the warmth of my house. I still like the hot chocolate part though…I had to take a break from writing this to make Jim and myself some.

The thing about snow is that it reminds me time and time again, that all of nature is given the chance to be beautiful.
                  -Sonia Keepes

God has made everything beautiful in its time.   -Ecclesiastes 3:11

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