Off and on for the last week we have been alternately pelted with what I call ‘granola snow’. It starts out as little grains of snow and eventually creates a crusty, slipper surface everywhere you step. This goes on for a day or so and then the sun comes out (or tries to) and then the temperature edges up and over freezing resulting in melted granola.
While mentally composing this post, I ranged way back 60-some years and recalled the snows of winters past. I am sure everyone does this from time to time; comparing snows “like it used to be, Sonny” with a chuckle more like a cackle, but I really seem to remember a lot lustier winters in my past.
Take Fairbanks (please). We were up there from summer 1947 through summer of 1950. I was age 5 through 8. Perhaps it was because I was closer to the ground, perhaps not, but it did seem that snowfall, any snowfall, seemed to reach my waist fairly fast. I definitely remember walking to school pushing snow ahead of me like a two-legged snowplow the whole six blocks. When I arrived (or, in fact any kid arrived), our first order of business was to dance about and shake wadded snow and ice down our snowsuit legs. This was done in the entryway and under the supervision of stern-faced teachers who would inspect each and every one of us for contraband (i.e. hidden snowballs).
Once inside, we progressively shed outer garments until we were steamed dry. This was because the school used a monstrous coal-fired boiler and steam heat. Steam heat, as we all know, is the bane of any kid regardless of age. When the heat was on, we sweltered; when it was off, we froze our little tushies off. But, I digress.
We were overjoyed when our dad came home and told up we were moving to Washington, D.C. Whoopee! No more snow!
To put it mildly, we were disillusioned the very first winter. That was the winter of 1951 and it was brutal. It actually made me wish for the sunnier days of Alaska. At least in DC we had buses to take us to school. Only on rare occasions would they fail to get through. It was pointless to sit there in the kitchen listening to the radio and praying for a snow day (or week, sometimes) because they would never fail to pick us up.
This amount of snow was not the norm though. In most winters (we were there from 1950 through 1955) the snow levels were somewhat disappointing to us kids. It rarely ever reached our waists. Instead, it mostly hung around our thighs or lower. Since my age was from 8 through 13 there, perhaps it was because I was taller than before. By now, however, boys my age were now more interested in building, charging, and defending snow forts as well as making the lives of girls miserable by snowy antics. I would like to state here and now that I really didn’t have any axe to grind when I did stupid stuff like that. If any of those girls are still around, I apologize. It was just ‘stuff boys did’ back then; stupid, but necessary by the ‘Code of the Male Animal – preteen years’.
Moving onwards, we spent the years 1955 through 1958 in Southwest Germany – specifically at Bitburg AB near Trier. This was a different snow it seemed. Weather patterns weren’t like those in the States. It seemed as if snow could come from any direction – and usually did. My dad, who was in the hierarchy of the 2nd Weather Wing on base, had a particularly hard time predicting weather patterns for quite a while until he got used to there not actually being a pattern. In my 13th through 15th years there, I came to welcome hard snows. Since we were housed in a central area, and the school was plonked down smack dab in the middle, we rarely got a chance to actually miss school because of snow. We did have what they called ‘delayed opening’. This is similar to what that call the same thing nowadays except that it meant we would gather in the gymnasium or smaller lunchroom and play records and dance until the teachers actually arrived. Now I recall that snow was beginning to work towards my aims instead of against them.
The Germans also had tons of sports and festivals all winter long in which snow played an important part. Cold weather would not daunt them from carnivals and the like. All of which would allow some cold-weather activity on the part of good male-female relations. In face, it outright demanded it in some instances. Ice skating was high on the list as well as bundling on horse-drawn hay wagons (real wagons with real hay and real horses) so we could “watch the scenery go by”. And, best of all, there was nothing like walking your girlfriend home in knee-deep snow, carrying her books, and trying to catch flakes on your tongues. That was something to die for.
The following years, I spent mostly in California. When that ended, I spent a year in college and then joined the navy. My first few years were spent down in Southeast Asia where the only snow you saw was coming from the press reports on how well we were ‘winning the war’. I did spend three years in Misawa, Japan. The snows were great there with drifts sometimes high over the roof of the car as I drove to work. It seemed strange , however, that Japanese snow only fell from right to left.
Now, in this new year, all I see (so far) is snow that barely reached your shoe tops. I realize that we may have more snowstorms for a while, but I’d bet they aren’t anywhere near as deep or as good as snowfalls of the past; dammit. I really miss a good hefty snow. Maybe, since it is an election year, we’ll see some great snowjobs.