Saturday, August 8, 2009

What a winter

Do you recall a stifled yawn when your male parent started a sentence with, "When I was a kid."
Lecture time again and you knew he was setting out to prove how easy you had it, being practically carried about on a silken pillow, never knowing a moments strain of pain. naturally the anquish of listening to this tale for close to 20 years was never counted.

Dad's five-day-a-week, torturous sojurn to learn his ABC's was made during the Ice Age. Either that or about 40 years before the telling, his neighborhood had a run of bad luck with five or six killing winters and no time out for spring, summer or fall. The freezing snow was a couple of stories high and Pop's shoe soles were as thin as a mouse's ear. If he had a coat at all--the information differed--it resembled Swill cheese more than any piece of clothing.

To hear my father tell it the frozen noses and toes were accepted with a stiff upper lip. (no pun intended.) And arriving at the one-room school house--did you expect anything different--brought little relief. The wood pile was invariably buried beneath a pinnacle of snow one foot short of mountainhood. The only warmth on the premises was from the breath of Smiley Baileys English Sheepdog. Pupils and teacher leaned in toward the animal like sticks for a teepee and studied McGuffey's Reader. When lunchtime came they chopped their sandwiches apart with an axe and...well, you no doubt have all of the piture you can stand by now. And that brings me on my meanering way to the point. Exaggeration is the point. Coincidentally it involves the weather.

Ten years ago, or so, television predictors were the brunt of many a joke. The only members of the population who gave them any credence was their mothers. Their reading were so far off that if they said it would be sunny we got out the sandbags and prepared for a flood. Where did they get their information? From rolling dice? Picking daisy petals? There were those who questioned why they never seemed to consult the sky. Surely big black clouds meant there was more than an even chance of rain. The sun shining in a great expance of blue almost always pointed to ...the sun shining in a great expance of blue.

Enough picking on the weather people. To be fair they didn't have the scientific tools at their disposal they have now, and those tools do an almost fool-proof job. Maybe the lack of a challenge like they were faced with in the past has them bored, because they exaggerate something awful, drawing out what should be a two-minute report to about 10. An evening of winter rain has become, "A storm coming in off the Pacific to pound the coast. Snow falling in the mountains is now, "A blizzard of driving, blinding snow buring the mountain passes.

It's winter neighbors and that's the way winters have been as long as I've lived here. We had some other rough times though. Why, when I was a kid....

Taken from my humor column, Down Home.


  1. I am old enough to have had my parents tell real tales of their trek to school in the snow, by skis or ponies. One parent went to school in Minnesota, the other in Nebraska, so I do belive they actually did as they said.However, their stories occasionally did seem exaggerated, but we enjoyed them anyway.Who gets to ride their pony to school now a days?

  2. Dear Audrey: Thanks for stopping by at stickhorsecowgirls and leaving a comment. I have been perusing your blog and I absolutely LOVE it! What a natural writer you are! When it comes to posting on the computer, I am still learning too! My blog partner "C" is much more adept than I am at downloading pictures, the layout, etc. I am a technological idiot! Still, I am determined to conquer my inadequacies! Fortunately I have a computer savvy 12 yr. old grandson to teach me! Please keep posting your stories. There is much to learn from them. V.