It’s a cloudy day and I have been moving slowly today. It’s chilly in the house and the outside temperature and inside temperature are just at that point where the heat does not come on. The floors are cold and in an effort to keep my feet warm, I pulled out a bulky pair of wool socks to wear. I was suddenly struck with a vivid memory of my youth.
We grew up in a valley in the mountains of Virginia. It was not unusual for school to be cancelled because of snow — and that was before make-up days! We loved it. Even when the bus ran, it could often not make it up the hill to get us out of the valley and on our way to school. When that happened, there was nothing to do, but take us back home. This was WAY before the time that parents ever took their children to school. If the bus could not get you there, you just didn’t go.
If snow was the reason we didn’t make it to school, we headed upstairs to put on our winter play clothes so we could go sledding. Then we always raided my grandfather’s sock drawer and pulled out his long wool socks for extra warmth under our boots. I can remember wearing 2 pair of this too-big too-long wool socks over my own socks to keep warm.
Then off we would go! We had one sled we had to share. An old red railed Flexible Flyer sled. There were no donuts, or toboggans or any fancy sleds. Over and over we would go up and down the hill and take turns riding. I can remember how cold my hands were and I can still see little tiny snowballs frozen to the threads of my mittens. We stayed out in the cold until we were forced to come in.
If there was a really good snow and our parents were home, sometimes we would go up the mountain road with them and they would sled with us. I can remember bunches of people gathering and sledding together. Sometimes there would be a bonfire to warm yourself — but only if adults were there. My parents were always in the mix — they enjoyed the fun as much as we kids did.
After sledding, we would sometimes get hot cocoa. It was made in a saucepan with whole milk, Hershey’s cocoa powder and sugar. Once in a great while, we might even have a marshmallow to put on top.
If the snow was clear of tracks, my grandmother would sometimes make ‘snowcream‘ – a delectable ice cream made of snow, eggs, milk, and vanilla. It was a wonderful treat which we all loved! Somewhere along the way everyone became afraid of eating snow because of the fear of contamination from ‘fallout’ . If we ever got enough of a snowfall here, I would make ‘snowcream’ and eat it — trust me!
It’s amazing how these memories came flooding back, simply by putting on a pair of socks that reminded me of my grandfather’s old wool socks. We were brave and fearless as we flew down the hills, plowing into snowbanks.
It was a great time to be a kid.
“As I took my children sledding this morning, I watched them fly down the hill – aiming for the jump and flying in the air. Getting the wind knocked out of them as they landed hard then climbing up to do it again – relentless and brave.
I took a moment to be happy they are young and innocent and appreciate the simple thrill of going fast down a hill. I pushed my own nervous inclination aside and instead of saying “Be careful!” I said “Aim Straight!” Then I let them go down the jump again and again because in this world, we need to be relentless and brave and I need to be sure they don’t unlearn it.”