Well, the weather guessers, as a friend likes to call them, are running around squawking with their feathers ruffled. Seems mid-Michigan is supposed to get some snow. I'm ok with that. As a Michigan native, I sort of expect that this time of year. To be honest, I'd like to see more than the paltry 5" to 7" that is forecast. I'd like to see a good 12" or more - enough to shut down every school in three counties, and close my office for the day. Wouldn't a day off to stay home warm and snug just be wonderful?
That farm was where I learned to love the pattern and rhythm of the seasons and it's the site of so many memories - that first spring bike ride, splashing through the icy puddles on the dirt road; the glory of those maples every autumn, summer afternoons with the catalpa tree blossoms floating in my little wading pool. But it is the winter I remember most clearly, the smells and sights and feelings of it. Perhaps because winter brought Christmas? Perhaps because I immersed myself in the stories of Silver Chief and the Yukon Territory? Hard to say.
I remember magical first snows, the type that is a pure, fluffy white with the blades of grass showing through, perfect for building snowmen, and the dry squelching sound my boots made in it. I remember staying outside until my fingers and toes were tingling with cold, and my mittens were soggy. Mom would call us in for lunch, spaghettios and milk in front of the kitchen fireplace and oh how we'd holler as our hands and feet thawed!
Dad would use a front end loader to clear the driveway and push the snow up into piles perfect for playing king of the hill and trying out our new plastic sleds. We had the kind that were a simple sheet of dark blue plastic with a couple of holes cut in for handles. The plastic naturally liked to live in a roll shape, and wasn't fond of unrolling. It was always a bit tricky to try to unroll it and try to hold it flat while simultaneously jumping on to it before it rolled up again or took off down the hill before one had both butt-cheeks on it. More often than not, sled and kid would end up bumbling down the hill in a sort of half-rolled sandwich, boots, scarves, and mittens poking out at odd angles, landing in a giggling heap at the bottom.
Sometimes I would wake up early, well before dawn, but the world would still be light, snow gleaming with thousands of sparkles under a bright moon. I would wake up my little brother, and the two of us would quietly pad down the stairs and out into the kitchen, where I would make each of us a bowl of oatmeal. We'd put on our snowsuits and struggle into our boots and mittens, and let ourselves out into the silver world, amazed at the velvet blue sky above, and the intricate blue shadows on the snow under the trees. We'd climb up into the hayloft and build a fort out of bales, then snuggle down and read books, the cows sleepily murmuring in the stalls below.
Now that I think of it, that may have been the last time I enjoyed getting up early!
With memories like those, who wouldn't love winter? Yes, as a grown-up I've had to face the reality of frozen water pipes, heat bills, icy roads, and getting stuck; and sad incidents of folks being stranded or killed in accidents, but I've never lost my love for winter. And as I said before, I keep prepared for it.
Recently I pulled my pack out of the truck and went through it again to make sure it was well-stocked and ready for anything from being stranded by a storm to a vehicle break down. It really doesn't take a lot of money to gather a few things together.
I start with a nifty camouflage pack that is designed to function as a backpack, as well as attach to the back of the truck seat that I found on a clearance rack for ten bucks. In that pack I have:
blanket (bright red fleece and zips up to form a light-weight sleeping bag)
change of clothes
water in pouches (freezes without bursting, ordered from Amazon)
hot chocolate and instant soup
sterno fuel and folding stove
first aid kit
personal care package (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, etc; the little bottles you get at a hotel are great for this)
foot and hand warmers
Until next time, God bless you and keep you safe, my friends.