Cold Comfort


I hate being cold.  I’m like my mother in that way.  She was cold all the time, when I was a little girl.  I am now, but not then.  Then I could play outside all day in the winter.  I walked around the house barefoot without feeling a bit cold; then I went to school with loafers and no socks on, because white socks were for farmers.  Okay, I was a farmer’s daughter; but I didn’t have to broadcast it.

When Mom was younger, she liked to be outside in the winter.  She knew how to ice-skate and once she got new skates for Christmas when she wanted a doll.  That made her burst out crying, kinda like I did when I got nylons instead of a microscope for my birthday.  Grandpa made a toboggan for Mom and her brothers, Uncle Gene and Uncle Ken, only they weren’t uncles way back then.  Dad and his brothers, all my other uncles got sleds from Santa every year; his sister, Aunt Barbara never got a sled, she just got dolls, ’cause she was a girl and her mom thought you had to be careful with girls.  My Mom knew girls were tough.  Girls can do everything and then some.  I only had brothers way littler than me, and I had to do everything most boys did around the farm and housework, too, plus learn to sew and cook.  That’s what ‘then some’ was all about.  Still, I had lots of time to play.

Sometimes,  snow got all crusty on top, and I could slide right along on top.  That was the best.  I plopped down on my belly, or skittered over the ice with my rubber boots on over my shoes, just like I was ice-skating.  I never learned to ice-skate, because we never had good ice around me.  The creek froze over, but it was all mixed in with snow, so it was all bumpety and the skates got stuck.  Plus I only had hand-me-down skates, which never fit quite right, so my ankles kept bending and folding over.  Mom never let us wear hand-me-down shoes, but for skates that was okay.  I roller-skated all summer long, with clamp on skates, but ice-skating was a whole different story.  That wasn’t even worth the effort.  Especially when I could go gliding down the creek, and under the road with my sled, with no trouble at all.  I couldn’t even stand up in that little area under the road, so skating down there was impossible anyways.  I could slide under there with my sled and listen for cars to roll over me.  Nancy and Deanna and me and Doug and Bonita played chicken under there, trying to scare each other out, with stories about people getting crushed when the bridge collapsed.  Of course it never happened to any of us.

Us kids tried to sled down hill in the pasture, which was about as close to hopeless as a person can get.  The runners just sank into the snow, and stopped dead.  Dried up old Queen Anne’s Lace and burdock and nettles poked up out of the snow and into my face and stuck to my mittens, so I had to spend all night picking the burrs out.  Sometimes we uncovered burrows for mice and other little animals, down there under the snow, and sometimes we made our own little burrows.  That ended with piling snow all around so we could make an igloo, like the Eskimos.  Tommy next door helped with that; he loved to help us build forts and camps in the summertime, so it was natural he’d like to build igloos, too.

Sometimes Mom and Dad took us to a big hill for real tobogganing.  That was the berries, ’cause the hill was steeper than all get out and the snow packed down and slick as ice ever was.  Plus Mom and Dad were out there too, which always, always made things way funner than just us kids.

I’ll tell you more about winter fun tomorrow.  I just finished shoveling the drive and I’m freezing.  I intend to sit by the fire, bundled in blankets, with a mug of mulled wine, and wait for spring.  Or at least, I’ll wait for it to stop snowing outside.  Well, maybe I’ll just wait for tomorrow.

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