Column: There was a time when snow was welcome, but not now

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 7, 2002

This column will go to The Tribune before the election, but will appear after it. I include this bit of information so you will not wonder why I make no reference to the outcome.

Whatever our political views, I feel we all must have a sense of relief that everything can get back to normal now and we can turn our thoughts toward the coming holidays and less happily the long and freezing winter.

I actually sat down and counted the months in which we might expect the weather to be the weather of summer or the weather of winter. Summer is usually with us during May, June, July, August and September. Winter has a firm grip during November, December, January, February and March. April and October can go either way. The main point is that summer and winter each last five months, neither more nor less. Why then, I ask you, does winter seem so much longer than summer?

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Back when I was growing up we used to sing a weather song at the camp I went to each summer. It went, &uot;Whether the weather be cold/ Or whether the weather be hot/ Whether the weather be fair/ Or whether the weather be not/ Whatever the weather, We’ll weather the weather/ Whether we like it or not.&uot;

I can’t say it’s a song that exactly cheers me, when I’m snowed in and barred from my car by a sheet of shining ice from house door to the garage, but if I can pull myself together enough to hum it softly it at least keeps me from boring my friends with my opinion of the situation.

It’s good to remember that there was a time in my life when I loved the snow and looked forward to it almost as much as I looked forward to Christmas. My father took time to make a big bobsled for our Campfire Group: big enough to hold all 16 of the members and painted a beautiful glowing red. How we enjoyed it!

During recess at school we made angels in the snow or played Fox and Geese on winter mornings. I was nine years old before we had central heating in the house. Our living room was heated with a big baseburner, all shiny nickel plating and little isinglass windows through which you could watch the flames dancing and casting a reflection on the snow beyond the windows.

Unless the weather stood at blizzard stage there was almost always company, music, popcorn, hot chocolate. Hot chocolate as made by my mother was served with sticks of cinnamon in it and a dollop of whipped cream for topping.

We lived across the street from the grade school I attended. It was an old school; both my parents had attended it at one time or another. It had no lunchroom. So the teachers used to run over at lunchtime with their sandwiches in bad weather, sure that my mother would have the coffee pot full and ready on the stove.

It was not a practice I appreciated. It always resulted in my mother knowing more about me than I ever wanted her to know. I liked the kids with whom I went to school, but I didn’t like school. I, also, had no desire to wash blackboards, beat erasers, collect papers, or take names on those rare occasions when a teacher had to be absent for a few minutes from the room.

When my mother, in discussing the matter with me, pointed out that in asking me to do these things the teachers were doing me a favor, &uot;The other children love to be asked.&uot;

&uot;Then why should I spoil it for the other children when I don’t want to do any of those things?&uot; I asked. My father laughed thus making the argument one of the few with my mother that I ever won.

Sometimes in unusually cold weather when parents couldn’t pick the children up right at the end of the school day the kids would come over and stay at our house until they could be picked up. For the very little ones my mother always had a small box of white sand, empty bottles and spoons so they could play without getting bored.

By time I was in my teens, in high school and earning money baby sitting, I used to be asked to show up at PTA meetings and keep the kids playing games in one of the school rooms, so their parents could attend the meeting even when they hadn’t been able to get a baby sitter.

On one such occasion one of the teachers introduced me to a lawyer who had just moved with his wife and two children to our town. His request to meet me so he could see who was looking after his kids was the one given me. Looking back I realize he wanted to meet me because he and my mother had gone to high school together.

The first thing he said to the teacher who introduced us was, &uot;But her mother was so beautiful!&uot;

Love Cruikshank is an Albert Lea resident. Her column appears Thursdays.