By Joe Rector
The past week saw winter rear its ugly head. A small amount of snow didn’t look like too much of a problem, but temperatures that stayed in the teens and twenties turned melting snow into sheets of ice. Anytime in my life that the white stuff stacks up outside, I’ve been out in it.
As youngsters, snow was something that excited us. It seems that accumulations were more back then; maybe global warming has affected the regions totals. We begged to go outside, but Mother sometimes made us wait. That was unusual since most of the times she ordered us out of the house to find something to do.
We didn’t have snow clothing. Instead, we put on a couple of layers of shirts and pants. Zipping that second pair of jeans was a challenge, and by the time all the clothes were on, we looked like the younger brother in “A Christmas Story.” No one had a pair of boots. In their place, we put on our play shoes and a couple of pairs of socks; plastic bags used for loaves of bread, secured with rubber bands, were on top of everything.
Once outside, we reveled in the snow. Sometimes snowmen were created. Snowball fights always took place until someone took a fistful of snow to the face. One time, we built an igloo of sorts, and all of us boys crawled into it before the sun came out and melted it. Then we moved to the pond in the woods. We skated on thin ice and hoped it would hold us. Only once did it crack and dump us into frigid waters. It was more fun than could have been imagined.
After my children arrived and became old enough to knock around outside, I accompanied them as they played. Both were more appropriately dressed for the weather than I was years earlier. The two of them immediately dropped to the ground and made half a dozen snow angels. Next, we struggled to make a snowman, even though the snow was many times powdery and uncooperative. The kids always had a good time battling their dad in a snowball fight. Of course, I also took them around the yard and pointed out the importance of leaving alone any yellow snow that they found.
Before long, the children turned surly with boredom. That signaled the time to bring out the old coal scoop. It was the one that Daddy bought when the coal furnace was installed in our house when I was a small boy. The edge was bent and warped from use shoveling coal and scraping the curb in front of our property.
I grabbed the handle and placed both little ones on the metal part. Then I’d take off running as fast as my skinny legs would move me. The kids held on to each other as the shovel glided over the packed snow and ice. I’d stop suddenly and swing the shovel out into a big circle and then started over again. Lacey and Dallas loved the ride and laughed and squealed as they rode. I, on the other hand, stumbled toward the front door to take off soaked clothes and plop down into my recliner, where the next hour would be spent napping. Amy would step outside and scoop up a large bowl of snow. She added ingredients to make snow cream, and we all enjoyed a cupful of the stuff.
I thought that I would escape trips outside to play in the snow when I aged, but oh, how wrong I was to believe it. These days, Sadie, our dog, whines and jumps, and growls to go out. When we exit the door, she takes off. Her nose is lowered to the ground and serves as a plow. The snow covers her snout until her tongue licks the stuff off. Sadie runs as if she were escaping a dangerous enemy, but her exercise is fueled by an excitement to be in the white stuff. She grudgingly goes into the house and stands still until I can dry her off. Then we both head for the recliner for that same kind of nap that I took when my children were small.
I love the snow—for about two hours. Then I’m ready for it to disappear so that I can get on with life. To be honest, I enjoy snow the best when I view it from the windows of my den. Cold play just isn’t something important to my present life.