23 January 2016–If I were a snow goose, I’d be looking for open water beyond my ken. The St. Joe is frozen, covered in a thin layer of snow. It’s a beautiful sight, now blanketed in darkness. The news of expected epic snowfalls in the eastern part of the country this weekend brings to mind a stream of consciousness concerning my snow experiences over the years. I’ll indulge in some of these memories and see if there’s any connection to the here and now.
Sometime in the late 1940s I remember riding in a trailer from the farm of my maternal grandparents, where I was born, to the farm my parents had bought adjacent to my paternal grandparents with whom we were living then–my parents, my brothers Sandy and Will. My uncle Harold was driving the Ford Ferguson and I was trying to see over the racks by hanging onto the rack. My toes were cold in that five mile journey. I don’t remember anything being transported in the trailer; I think Harold was bringing it to move things from Solomon and Rachel’s home to the farm house down the road. Maybe Sandy can fill in the rest of the story.
We attended a one-room school house, eight grades with one teacher. More often than not we walked or rode bikes to school. During the coldest days of winter we were driven or caught rides with neighbors. One time in the late 40s or early 50s our hired man, Alex Debrody, met us with a horse and cutter when we were almost home. He turned around in the ditch and almost got stuck, or so it seemed to me. How nice to cover up with a buffalo robe. Sandy has the robe, but the cutter is long gone.
Grandfather Solomon was the custodian at church and one Sunday hitched up the horses and sleigh to go early to make the fire. The roads were pretty much drifted shut. I rode along on the sleigh but had to jump off and run behind to try to warm my feet.
Another winter we were snowed in for a whole week. The county had to hire a snowblower to open the road. The snowplow trucks and graders just couldn’t handle the drifts. We have a picture of Sandy and me and maybe Willard sitting at the top of the snow bank with a short section of the telephone pole sticking out. What a fun week. When the cuts in the snow banks created by the wings of the plows froze hard enough, we made that our own walking path.
Going to high school at Rockway in Kitchener presented some snow challenges. Several of us in the neighborhood rode with Sandy who had a job in Kitchener. I can still picture places notorious for snow drifts, icy hills, whiteouts. One time we couldn’t get home so I stayed with aunt Vera at the doctor’s home where she worked in New Hamburg. I’ve no idea where Sandy stayed, oh, he was married and living in Baden, I think.
Snow, snow, snow, beloved from pole to pole, someone wrote.
In 1967 at college in Winnipeg, I experienced real winter, like 40 degrees below zero. I remember walking a block and feeling the wind like pinpricks through my less than adequate winter coat. I also remember playing hockey on an open air rink and seeing piles of snow dumped on the banks of the Red River to melt in spring.
In 1977, Marty and I moved into a house that we had searched for for two years. It has a fireplace (we no longer use it), a dining room and, well, we just fell in love all over again. The day of our move in January, almost 39 years ago, we experienced a blizzard. The place where we rented the truck closed right after we picked it up. We had to shovel at both places. A host of friends helped us move. We lit a fire in the fireplace and a bird flew into the room. We helped it find its way out. Simon Gingerich brought cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate that his wife Dorothy had made. Yes, it was a blizzard, a blizzard replete with helping hands and loving hearts. It’s one of our fondest snow stories.
A couple weeks ago, before we got a decent blanket of snow, a flock of robins came and raided the red berries from the bush beside our front door. What a picture. God provides.
I’ve used the snow shovel a half dozen times. The sun has helped, too. Snow. My 89-year-old brother-in-law, Bill Mast, today shook my hand with a hidden snowball in his hand. The snow is with us for a season. A big snow is forecast for the east. Could this be part of God having fun?