Mom rested in her upholstered rocking chair, reading a woman’s magazine. Our house was Sunday afternoon quiet. Curled up on the floor next to the living room heat register, I half-heartedly paged through an old Scrooge Mc Duck comic book. The dreary early December afternoon sky made the living room dark enough for us to have the lamps turned on.
Relaxed in his favorite chair, Daddy slowly examined family photos from the big box balanced on his lap. Some of our family pictures were funny. Like the one my brother Casper took one summer afternoon. He had come home from fishing with one small perch. Trying to make the fish appear huge, Casper hung it from a pole a few feet away from the camera and then had me stand a good 30 feet beyond, staring up as though looking at a whale-sized perch. The trick did make the fish appear large, but over exposure made the fish look like a white, blurry whale.
Feeling chilly, I cuddled closer to the heat vent. I heard my sisters Agnes and Rosie in the kitchen talk as they washed the noon meal dishes. I suspected they were planning to make fudge. My brother Billy was in the basement cracking open black walnuts. My other brother Casper was in his bedroom down the hall listening to a portable radio. I didn’t know what my sisters Betty and Mary were doing upstairs, but I wasn’t curious enough to leave my cozy spot to find out.
At four in the afternoon, Daddy left the house to feed the cows and Mom stopped reading to begin preparing our evening meal. While the cows ate, Daddy and the boys would return to the house to eat too. After eating, they’d go back to the barn to milk the cows.
Still feeling chilled, I followed Mom into the kitchen. She complained as she was cutting potatoes to fry, “My finger joints hurt.”
When Daddy returned to the house for supper, it was nighttime-dark outside the kitchen windows. During the meal Daddy commented, “I think we’re going to have a big snowstorm tonight. A humid wind is blowing out of the east.”
I felt excited with the anticipation of fresh snow to play in. So far this winter, we hadn’t yet had a really big snow storm.
Snow was falling when I got up the next morning. Disappointed that school hadn’t been called off, I slowly dressed. When I stepped into the school building, I felt a tangible sense of pent-up excitement. There were over 400 children in the building, all hoping and praying that school would be called off early because of the snow storm. The air vibrated as hushed voices speculated on the possibility.
The snow kept falling. Then strong winds began to swirl it around. As soon as lunch was over, everyone was sent home, little suspecting that the storm would last for days. When the storm was finally over, snow plows pushed the drifts aside, creating deep, icy canyons for cars to drive through. The wind had drifted huge banks of snow up to the roof tops of buildings.
Snow build-up comes in several forms. One is the hopeful anticipation of children hoping to get out of school, such as I remember from my childhood.
Another form of snow build-up is when the snow keeps falling for days on end and then drifted by strong, steady winds. The huge volume of snow left behind takes a long time to melt despite warm spring days.
The form of snow build-up I dislike is when the weather reporters excitedly announce that over twenty inches of snow will fall, but then the storm system veers off to the north or south. Or worse yet, the temperature warms and all the snow falls as rain.
When I hear talk of snow, especially early in winter when I still love snow, I feel the same excited anticipation I did when I was a kid. If the storm doesn’t happen or it warms, I want to sue the weatherman for snow build-up malpractice.