Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here in the Western Maine Mountains. With snowbanks piled high outside my windows and the groundhog predicting six more weeks (at least) of cold winter weather, it occurs to me that the only people still taking unmitigated delight in all that white stuff are probably under the age of twelve. Even the skier in my family is getting tired of having to clear out the dooryard and driveway after every storm.
These days, when it’s blustery outside, I’m content to stay indoors, woodstove pouring out warmth, and read a good book, but that wasn’t always the case. Writers mine their memories for details to use in their books. Today my mind keeps drifting back to that distant time when a winter’s day with no school meant bundling up in the aptly named snowsuit and spending a good part of the daylight hours outside.
When I was growing up there wasn’t much available in the way of organized activities. There were ski areas near my home in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, but learning to ski cost money even then. Mostly we amused ourselves by making use of all that free snow to have snowball fights, build snowmen, snow forts, and snow caves, and make snow angels. Just about everyone had a sled and there were plenty of hills to ride them down.
Although I played in the snow with the neighborhood kids in my home town, I also spent many snowy days during the first decade of my life on my grandparents’ farm in Hurleyville, New York. Some of those memories are so vivid because my father took pictures. I don’t know that I went ice fishing on the farm pond on the property more than once, but that once has been immortalized. I do remember that, shortly after this photo was taken, my dog, Skippy, fell into the hole my grandfather had made in the ice and had to be rescued.
Another lasting memory is the time my grandfather produced a toboggan and took me for the scariest ride of my life. We sledded right down the middle of the road that ran past the farmhouse. There wasn’t any traffic, and I don’t suppose the hill was all that steep, but it scared the dickens out of me all the same. Oddly, that didn’t stop me from taking my little wooden sled down a steep, snow-covered driveway that would have shot me out into the middle of Main Street if I hadn’t been able to stop at the bottom. All the neighborhood kids loved that run. Our parents? Not so much.
Did we really get more snow in those days? Or was it just that the piled-up snow looked higher because I was shorter? Whatever the truth of the matter, I wouldn’t have missed growing up in a snowy climate for anything, and in spite of grousing about the cold in the present day, I love this part of the world in the winter. It’s truly a mystery to me why people choose to trade Maine (or New York) for Florida at this time of year.
What about you, dear readers? Can you still find the beauty, and the fun, in a northern winter? Or would you prefer to embrace the lifestyle of a “snowbird” and flee to warmer climes?
Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett has had sixty-four books traditionally published and has self published others, including several children’s books. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Her most recent publications are The Valentine Veilleux Mysteries (a collection of three short stories and a novella, written as Kaitlyn) and I Kill People for a Living: A Collection of Essays by a Writer of Cozy Mysteries (written as Kathy). She maintains websites at www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com. A third, at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women, is the gateway to over 2300 mini-biographies of sixteenth-century Englishwomen.
When rain or warming left a crust, we would slide down to the lake on cardboard. Getting back up the hill was a challenge, though. As for community…there was a pond near the town center where all the kids would skate and then cocoa was served behind the post office.
We used to rent a condo in Florida near our son for a month or two, and have the rest of the family fly down for a few days. I can’t say I missed the snow, but I missed living in my own house with my own stuff. I’m very fortunate that my husband serves as the Arctic Explorer now, and I get to stay inside admiring the white stuff through the windows. I can’t wait to get back in the yard though–the dog made a path through the ice-crusted snow that’s dog-sized, not Maggie-sized.
I remember high snow banks and being outdoors for hours building snowmen–and snow dogs. This was the mountains of West Virginia, where there was snow and hills for sledding but no ski hills that I was aware of. There are a couple now, but I’m no skier. These days, I’d like to be a snowbird. I like snow but hate the cold.
I grew up in northeastern Ohio. Smack dab in the snow belt. We definitely had more snow. But more to the point it stayed cold all winter. None of this snow and melt nonsense. We used to suit up and spend as much time outside as possible. When we were younger, my sisters and I also used cardboard boxes as sleds. They were free and the cold kept them from melting.
My dad made boot trees to dry all that footware upside down. We had a hot water radiator to drape and the clothes line by the old fuel oil furnace was always drip drying the moment the first snow fell. Does anyone else remember using bread bags to get your feet into your boots? Wool socks and wool boot liners were warm, but might as well have been Velcro!
I don’t notice the children today playing outside as we did. No rosy cheeks. No frosty fingers or toes cause you just wanted a few more minutes. Really enjoying the hot chocolate because you were COLD. Thanks for the memories. Glad to know some where else they used card board boxes for sleds. And, yes, I love the our winter weather.
Thanks for sharing!
That anon. is me.
For some reason, although my iPad tells me I’m commenting as kaitlynkathy it’s coming up as anonymojs. Weird. This one’s from my pc