When the kids usually ask me to go sledding or some such outdoor activity it conjures up memories of my toes so cold they felt like blocks of ice in my boots and fingers stinging so badly that touching them hurt all the way to the bone. Or so it felt to my 12 year old self. You see I grew up in northern WI, where winter is a 6 month event. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around there would be snow for the deer hunters to track their 10 point bucks and the temperatures would have already dropped enough that my Papa Joe’s pond would be frozen thick enough for the farm hands and family to get a hockey game going after chores in the evening.
Come to think of it we usually had the snowmobiles fired up by that time too. I remember being allowed to drive my Dad’s green John Deere up and down the lane and around the fields with my brother and sister all afternoon long during hunting season, providing I was wearing my hunters orange safety vest and plenty of layers. Some days we would even turn the headlight on and drive around the yard in the dark to get the most out of our winter snowfall.
I remember never tiring of figure skating on the pond either and by the time I was 13 I had mastered the art of layering socks, long underwear and jeans to ensure that after lacing up my white skates I could stay out for at least an hour before dashing in to Gramma’s house to warm up in the basement by the wood stove. To this day the smell of wood heating up a house still brings back awesome memories of hearing football on the TV while the adults upstairs cheer and play card games around the dining room table. I can still hear their laughter floating down and feel that cozy feeling of being surrounded by family who have always been there while I work on my latest craft project or read a book.
Maybe it’s that sense of warmth and security that has been driving me to scour the second hand stores for figure skates for my kids this winter. My two oldest girls and I went for the first time together last year and had so much fun that when I saw a pair in Lindy’s size I snatched them up with excitement. To date I’ve collected skates for everyone but myself, Seth and Jesse, so we’re almost there. Here in Indiana winter is not so cold and so long as it is way up in the Northwoods. (Though last winter here Indiana made a pretty stiff run at it!) Even if it was constantly that cold and leaning to miserable, I appreciate it for the opportunity to experience the fun of family togetherness and the spirit of making the best of things, even when life is handing you another foot of snow. Hmm, now that my skate collection is almost complete, I wonder how long it would take to save money for an old green and yellow snowmobile...