bartley

As I sit in my office the snow is gently falling outside. This snow is the first significant accumulation of the season. For me, it is not a time of celebration. I do not look forward to shoveling sidewalks, scraping windshields, stepping into hidden puddles and sliding on icy walks and roads. It wasn’t always that way however.

I can still recall watching the first snow fall when I was a kid. If the snow fell overnight it appeared to us as though a miracle had occurred. When the sun set the night before the world was green but when we awoke it had turned white. In those days, (at least in my memory), the snow was always very white and very deep.

If it was a Saturday when the snow fell, a day without school, we could not wait to rush outside. Mom was not so excited. She knew what awaited her. There would be hours of sorting out winter clothes, wrapping a bunch of kids in snow suits, boots, gloves and hats.

She was also determined that we should have our hot oatmeal in us before we went out. I don’t know what magical powers oatmeal possessed but mom swore by the stuff. So we would wolf down the cereal while the Quaker on the box smiled his benign, dopey, smile at us. I am completely lost as to the added value of raisins in the oatmeal. They always reminded me of little rabbit droppings in my bowl. The brown sugar did help.

After a hurried breakfast and a prolonged dressing, we were finally able to go outside and play. We actually lived on a flat lot which defeated the idea of an immediate sled ride but snow has always compacted very well and that would, inevitably, lead to a snow ball fight. The soft snow was best but could be hard to squeeze into a ball but even if it didn’t quite make the perfect ball the loose packed stuff would still explode in a mist of powder when it struck the target. If that didn’t work you could always run down your victim and just stuff snow down their collar.

One year we were even able to build snow forts. This was in the day before they would sell tools that enabled you to build the perfect fort. We just used our gloved hands to pile the stuff up. We never had roofs on our forts so you were able to lob your snow balls into the “enemy’s” fort. Of course they could do the same to you which kept it fair in a way. After a few volleys one side or the other would make a dash at the opposing fortifications and a melee would break out. The battle usually ended with mom calling for us to come inside.

That was a good thing because we knew there would be hot chocolate made with real milk and real Hershey’s chocolate topped with a ton of miniature marshmallows. There was nothing better on a cold day than mom’s hot chocolate.

We did have a sled riding track of sorts. We would ride down the hill where the trailer park now sits on Pride Street. Back then it was wooded and we had a trail through the woods. If you missed the turn midway down the hill you would end up eating some pine trees. If you were really adventurous you could take the “shortcut” that went under a pine tree. You did not take that trail sitting up on your sled!

It seems to me that we always had to walk to school in very deep snow. That may be because I was so much shorter then. I recall putting on my boots and buckling them up over at least two pairs of socks. The hike to Longview required walking up hill both ways and that is no exaggeration. You had to walk up a small hill on the way to school and a larger hill on the way home. The path never saw a shovel so we would often walk single file with the bigger kids breaking the trail and the smaller kids following in their footsteps.

I tried ice skating one time. It did not go well so I will save that tale for another time.

These are my memories of a snowfall long ago. I hope all of you make your own memories with this new snow.

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