Ah, Distinctly I Remember…

The month of December was a lot of things to me as a kid, and not just the month that Christmas was in. For one, it was the month with the first real vacation from school, a thing I enjoyed very much. (vacation, not school). It was finally cold, also a thing I enjoyed. I loved the way the freshly fallen snow muffled the sounds, making the world feel somber and peaceful.

I remember being very young, perhaps six, when my mother pointed out the foot prints left in the snow by the pigeons, thinking they looked very alien. From that point on, every divot in the snow became a track of some kind in my mind. Deer prints, elephant prints, etc.

I would take a few slices of bread (don’t tell my mother!), a milk crate, a stick and some string, and try to trap pigeons. Thank whatever god you put stock in, that I didn’t catch any. I have no idea what I’d have done with one.

I remember sledding down the small hill near our apartment complex that had a host of cast iron cloths line poles in it for some reason. Looking back, I don’t recall them being used, or even being arranged in a logical pattern, but perhaps they were, I was very small. I had a great sled, it was blue and shaped like a space ship. It had brakes, and a sticker radar display on the dash, that I thought tracked pigeons.

I remember the first time I realized that when it rained after it snowed, the top inch or two of snow became ice that could be tunneled underneath. I would bust a hole, and dig tunnels under the ice for my matchbox cars to go through. I’m sure I lost more than a few.

I got in trouble frequently for dilly-dallying (if that’s how that’s spelled!) on the way home from school, because I couldn’t pass up a frozen puddle without stepping on it to break the ice. To this day, I still delight in stepping on the whiter areas of a puddle that had frozen over. Something about the crack of the ice just… I dunno. It’s fun. Try it.

When I was NOT so young (ten or so), I used to like to pretend that the snow banks that were created by the plows were small alien space stations. I’d pretend that little inch-high aliens built civilizations in the snow banks, because there were little towers and hollowed out areas that could be used as shuttle bays. I’d crush them dead!

When I was even less young (perhaps twelve?) I built a huge hammer in wood shop. I called it the sledge-mallet. I’d go to the huge snow piles left by plows after they cleared out parking areas, and I’d whale on the FOUR-inch alien’s habitats. They were a hardier breed than their one-inch brethren. The snow plows would leave behind HUGE snow boulders (snowlders?) that would ice up, and I’d bust the crap outta them. (Rawr.)

December always felt like a cleaning of the slate. Everything returned to zero, and you started again, much like those folks who make New Year’s resolutions… Only it wasn’t just about people. Trees were don’t shedding and waited for the spring. The world sort of stepped aside, took all it’s concerns out of the spotlight and let Mother nature show off her talents.

It’s a paying of the piper. We enjoy relative comfort for most of the year, but when winter comes we are most inconvenienced  We put on our thicker clothes in layers, we do more laundry, we bundle up, we drive slower, we are delayed… And at the end, we’re stronger for it.

Why I liked that December was the beginning of all that crap, I can’t explain. One would think a kid would be happier when it was over… Perhaps it was because no matter who you were, not matter how much better you acted than everyone else (cause we had a lot of those kids) it was a reminder that you weren’t. You dealt with it, just like everyone else. The punks, the rich kids, the jocks, were just the same as us slobs.

Or, perhaps I was just demented. Maybe both.

What are some of your memories about the winter / snow / December?


4 thoughts on “Ah, Distinctly I Remember…

  1. I was a kid a lot longer ago than you were…winter started in October and by December we were in the “deep” of winter already. I had my Dads homemade skies, his big fat snowshoes and my 6 man toboggan for amusement. I dried my snow encrusted mitts on the trivet on the wood stove (nearly burned the shed down once) and had a dog for a best friend.

  2. My memories of winter/December aren’t good, mainly coz I lived in Serious Snow Country for many years. I remember driving from South Bend, IN to Fortuna, ND in the blizzard of ’77 and wondering if I was gonna make it. I remember being stranded in a broken-down car on an isolated stretch of US 85 north of Williston ND in the dead of a winter night and worrying if I’d freeze to death before someone came along and saved me. The wait was an hour and a half in sub-zero weather, but we (two girls and me) were eventually rescued. I remember having to take a snow-cat home from work in a white-out in Wakkanai, Japan; a journey that took the better part of two hours vs. a six minute bus ride in summer. And those are just three things right off the top o’ my head.I hate winter.

  3. You had a great imagination as a child! I grew up in Victoria, BC and Southern California, so my winter memories don’t include snow. The trees turned an ugly brown and that was it! I did love Christmas vacation though. No one on the planet could have hated school more than me. Now I live in the frozen north and I do love the look of fresh snow. It is magical.

  4. Delores – I spent the later half of my youth in an area where there were more dogs than kids, and they’d wander around in packs. I can honestly say that several of the neighbors’ dogs were my best friends for quite a while. Buck – I have many negative memories of the winter too, but I thought I’d save those for when I’m ready for spring. 🙂 Belle – Thanks! I often feel like a vivid imagination is a gift frequently over-looked in adults.

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