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Snowstorm can make memoriesPosted Tuesday, February 1, 2011, at 4:31 PM
It was the winter of 1971.
I remember my father carrying my little brother and I over the snow drifts and into a rented motel room. If left to walk on our own, the snow would have easily been over our knees.
Two days before, the worst snow storm of my childhood had hit with a vengeance. It began with an ice storm, trees shedding their branches all over our yard, followed by a foot or more of snow, topped off with another layer of ice.
Our electricity went off the first night and I can still remember reading by candlelight, followed by an entry in my diary telling myself I was just like "Abraham Lincoln." The cold air in our home was shattered by the loud protests of my brother, age 5 and myself, age 9 when we were told we needed to share a bed. Later, warmly tucked in together, under the blankets of both our beds. I had to admit, it wasn't too bad an idea.
The next night we got a rare dinner out at the "Copper Kettle" and a room at the motel as our drafty old house, without a working fireplace, became too cold to safely stay.
After two days our school went back in session (three days off in a row was unheard of at the time) and our older sister, a 16-year-old high school student insisted on going. However, since our neighborhood grade school, like our home, still didn't have electricity, my brother and I gladly stayed at the motel.
Of course our glee turned to horror, when while eating at a local fast food restaurant (two meals out in a row - a record) two of our grade school teachers walked in to find us skipping school. Of course, after the teachers explained the poor conditions of the building heated only with one backup generator, I remember the pride, as they said, "You're a smart mother to keep them home, safe and warm."
As adults when snow comes, we think about all we need to do to prepare for a snow storm. As what could be the worst storm in years, takes aim on our area, stores are full of people buying supplies ranging from food to candles.
As adults, we also tend to think of the worst, and how we will get to our jobs safely. After all, hospitals, police and fire departments have to be covered. Newspapers and mail still have to be delivered.
As farmers, with animals to feed it means extra work, feeding extra hay and making sure there is an easy to get to stockpile of food and hay. It means chopping ice and blading roads for feed trucks. It means bringing pregnant cows close to the house or in the barn for easy checking at regular intervals. It could mean a long night of helping a cow bring another calf into the world.
But still with all the worries, I can't help but think of the memories.
The times when my young sons, snuggled with me in a pup tent we set up in or living room, complete with sleeping bags. A fire in our fireplace and our own bodies were the only source of heat, as ice tore down our power lines.
Looking for a book both might enjoy I grabbed a Hardy Boys mystery passed down from my brother. I knew it was the right choice when the restless boys, taking turns holding a flashlight, turned silent, listening intently to the next word or clue of the mystery. It led to a childhood filled with reading every Hardy Boys' book their Grandmas could find them.
We still talk about another ice storm, which left us again without power for several days. That year, I drove to Kansas City to get my mother, also without power, bringing her to our home, where at least we had a basement with a warm fire. Again, I remember. not the extra work with the cattle, but instead the closeness of a family that literally slept in one room, reading books with candles and flashlights. I think of the meals on a propane powered camp stove and the joy of getting something warm in a cold stomach.
As adults we dread the snow storm, but still we can't stop it. So for me, I've decided if I can't change it, I might as well find the beauty of the new-fallen snow and the hope that it too will be a precious childhood memory for someone.
Contact Marcia Gorrell at firstname.lastname@example.org
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