If we were having coffee this morning, I’d invite you to sit in the rocking chair by the window so you could see the glorious sunlight on this beautiful morning. We’ve just had our first snow of the year, and brilliance of the sun gleaming off that pure white surface is a wonder to behold.
Aw, who am I kidding? I’d give you the rocking chair because whoever sits there will be blinded by the glare on sunlight on new snow, and I have a headache.
Yes, I am a horrible hostess. Does that really surprise anyone?
I hate snow. Loathe it. Despise it. Awful, nasty, slippery stuff. If I didn’t love Michigan so much the rest of the year, I’d head south at the first opportunity. But not too far south – my sister lived in Florida for a while, and she told us horror stories about Palmetto bugs and lizards dancing on the screens.
I have to admit that the first snowfall of the year always puts me in a nostalgic mood. It really is beautiful. As long as I’m safe and warm inside and don’t have to go anywhere.
The funny thing about winter is that everyone seems to have stories about how bad winters used to be. “These storms nowadays are nothing like the ones we had when I was a kid!” they’ll declare, and I have to wonder if it’s a symptom of Global Warming or if we all just get selective memory as we get older.
My mom used to tell stories about the Blizzard of ’67. It was so warm that morning that Dad went to work in his “shirtsleeves” as she put it. In other words, coatless in January. She and Grandma sat outside in their slippers watching the baby play on a blanket, as the story goes.
Over the years, I’ve figured out that there were probably no slippers involved; that was just her way of saying that it was nice enough to go without boots. I’ve also figured out that the baby playing on the blanket must have been me.
The snow hit so hard and so fast that there were people who didn’t get home from work for days. They stayed where they were when the snow hit. Seven people died statewide as a result of that storm.
For me, though, the biggie was the storm of 1978, when I was in seventh grade. It was known as the “White Hurricane” and lasted for five days. I lived in Portage at the time, and we knew it was big because they closed Western Michigan University and Upjohn. Nothing ever made them close Upjohn.
I remember that specifically because my mom worked for Upjohn, and that meant she stayed home with us for all of the snow days during that storm. All of them.
Nobody could drive in that nightmare. After a few days, some of the dads collected money and shopping lists and drove their snowmobiles to the nearest convenience store for things like milk and bread.
The snowdrifts almost reached the roof of our little one-story house. I really wanted to leap from the roof into the deepest drifts, but our neighbor, the minister, was keeping a pretty close eye on me and kept calling Mom every time he thought I was trying something too dangerous.
I had my first kiss in that snowstorm. All of the neighborhood kids bundled up and met in Lexington Circle for snowball fights and games of King on The Mountain. We played until we were numb and the streetlights came on, and someone dared Donnie to kiss me under a streetlight. I remember that there were runny noses and chapped lips involved, and I went home wondering why people made such a fuss about kissing.
Where were you to stop that dangerous activity before it started, Reverend Buwalda?
We really don’t seem to have winters like that anymore, but they’re still bad enough. I hate driving in it or walking in it or knowing that the people I care about are out in it. I hate bundling up in layers and smashing my hair under a hat, and I really hate the fact that I’ve already slipped and hit the ground hard already once this year.
But for today, safe and warm and cozy in my too-warm apartment, I have to admit it’s awfully pretty out there.
I wonder if the neighbor kids will play King on The Mountain or exchange sloppy kisses under the streetlights.
What about you? What are some of your favorite winter memories? What’s the biggest snowstorm you remember?
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