August 18, 2006

When the hot August temperatures start to get to me, I think of winter and snow to help alleviate some of the sweaty misery. That led me to remember some of my encounters with snow. I hope you like the story, or more accurately, a remembrance.

I was not then, nor am I now an avid fan of winter. Except, ahh, except for the exhilaration of joy I often felt upon awakening after a crisp coldness had descended upon us overnight. The morning sun breaking through the gray snow sky revealing an unscarred layer of whiteness covering earth’s imperfections was almost my first awareness of what beauty is. The crisp coldness caused the newly fallen snow to sparkle like diamonds, free for the picking. A stirring from deep inside made me spring out of my warm cozy bed onto the cold morning floor immune to the discomfort, and fully aware of what could lie ahead as a result of Mother Nature’s overnight gift to a boy of ten years. Young yes; a scholar, no; a snow day? Yes! Yes! Maybe.

The furnace’s morning stoking and poking and fueling with an ample supply of coal was returning the favor by filling my moms kitchen with its unforgettable and pleasant aroma and heat. The smell of perking coffee, and the sight of the newly buttered toast enhanced those aromatic pleasures. On mornings like these, my mother, a true believer in the medicinal values of food would also prepare oatmeal for me. A properly nourished body, she would always say, is the proper way to begin a day. God, I loved my mom in those days. She was young, I was younger, the world was young; and it just came over the radio, “SCHOOL WAS CANCELLED BECAUSE OF THE BEAUTIFUL SNOW”.

On mornings such as these, when the fates had smiled on us and piled drifts of snow in our driveways and against our backdoors, I could not wait to get out into it. Of course, my moms job would not be done until she made sure I was covered with seventeen layers of protective clothing, or at least it seemed that many. Then I was sprung loose into a world of boys and sleds and imagination. Boys, little boys, young boys, evidently don’t have a built in device running from their bodies to their brains telling them they were getting mighty cold now. They just continued on and on and on, like the energizer bunny until, in the method of the day, their mothers would open the door and yell for them to come home for lunch. How I wonder, no matter how far away we were, we always seemed to hear them. I would arrive at the back door which led into the kitchen, and after working to remove my frozen boots from my frozen feet with my frozen hands, I would stand on the floor register, and let the glorious coal heat cover my body with its thawing, life restoring warmth. How I and my boyhood chums did not lose fingers or toes from frostbite, I’ll never know, because after a short time standing on the register, my feet would begin to hurt and sting. But soon a bowl of soup and maybe a sandwich would appear, the radio would be broadcasting a soap opera, and everything would be right. In my mind today, almost sixty years later, I can still feel the discomfort of the snow, but the comfort I feel from remembering those days and that kitchen and that time diminishes mere physical pain.

I will always have that kitchen, and those glorious snow days, and that caring mom with me as comfort and remembrance to call upon when age begins to lay heavily on me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm enjoying your blog very much. Some of your story/essays make me meloncholy while others bring to mind happy memories that were long forgotten. When reading this one I again pictured my cozy childhood kitchen, and could smell the coal heat while standing on the hot floor register. Guess we all had oatmeal in "the old days." Remember the toasters that opened on the sides? Thanks for the smiles & walk down memory lane.
J. Pompeii