| When I awakened yesterday morning it was like finding myself in St. Moritz. I pulled up the shades and found myself encased in huge piles of snow. There was a young man in a backhoe scooping up piles of the white stuff and moving them, creating mini mountains in the back yard.
I’ve always loved watching a backhoe at work. I can remember taking my grandsons to various work sites so we could all watch them do their thing. One of our favorite read aloud books was “Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel.”
Yesterday was no exception, so instead of going straight from bed to teakettle, I sat in the window watching the local “Mike” at work. When I finally turned away, I was temporarily snow blind. I have an electric kettle and finding the outlet holes took quite a while and a concerted effort.
I no longer have to get dressed, go outside, shovel a path to my car, and spend time clearing off the snow, which had buried it. Although I had to do this for myself for several years, I honestly can say I never minded it that much. Waiting for the busy plowman to come and dig me out so I could go to work, took some patience, but lots of hot tea and the morning newspaper helped. Occasionally, there was enough of a time lapse between my shoveling and car clearing and his plowing, so I’d have to go out and do my bit all over again before I could leave.
It’s the memory of those days, and the awareness of all the people who have to go through the same routine when I no longer do, that keeps me from reacting like a kid whenever I look out and see a heavy winter storm and its aftermath.
For those of you who have never lived in places where there’s no snowfall, I can tell you it’s nice, especially if you have lived with old man winter with his snowstorms, and are glad to be free of him. By the same token, it’s nice to return to the climate of your childhood with four seasons and one of them white and wet. I would have hated to have missed the days of sledding, skating and building snowmen and igloos in the backyard.
Learning to drive in the rough stuff is something else. It’s a lot easier and safer to drive a red flier sled over snow and ice than a car. When I had to do it for the first time, I consulted everyone with experience from my husband who, while having lived in California from birth to the age of 22, had spent the next seven of his years in Alaska, to every neighbor and friend. As a result, I’ve always had a space blanket; a shovel, flashlights, a towline, and at least two ten pound bags of kitty litter in the trunk of my car. Tires, if not radial, were snow tires, the spare was filled with air, and deicers were in the car and in my purse. The most important thing I learned, and advice I followed faithfully, were the two words, “Drive Slowly”. No matter how obvious the annoyance of someone driving behind me usually men in four-wheel drive vehicles I took my time. This was before the days of road rage. Today, I might get beaten up or worse.
After learning all I could about driving, I realized that one should learn to enjoy the snow, if possible. Cross-country skiing and show shoeing became my playtimes of choice. The best thing about both is the fact that it’s not necessary to travel away from home to do either, and the expense is much less. Cross-country skis can be bought second hand, as can snowshoes. I bought some Ojibwa snowshoes after learning on another type. They are wonderful and I was amazed to learn that they are the same type shoes developed and used by the Vikings, a rare example of two diverse cultures, developing a duplicate device.
However they came to be, for my money they are the best possible snowshoes a joy to use, especially if you like tromping through the deep woods as we used to do.
Right now, Chuckie and his classmates are learning to snowshoe and he is using my Ojibwas. He’s finding they give him an advantage and he loves them. I told him he’s lucky to have them because he has both Indian and Viking blood in his veins, so the shoes are perfect for him. I think, however, the best part of snow shoeing to him, is the opportunity to make himself fall down. Was there ever a small boy and a puppy who didn’t love falling in deep snow? If I could, I’d be outside right now, making snow angels.