Life was much more carefree when I was a kid. I didn’t have to worry about getting the car to start when it was cold, or driving through the snow-covered streets. We lived six blocks from the school so I just walked to school most days through the winter. If it was really, REALLY cold, we might get a ride.
I really kind of enjoyed winter when I was a kid. Sure it was cold and snowy, but that was just one more adventure! I’d get home from school to the smell of freshly baked cookies or freshly baked bread. The house was so nice and warm compared to the cold outdoors. And Mom was always there. What a warm memory.
Then it was out the door to old Doc Cairnes’ hill with my sled, down the steep hill and out across Lake Redwood. When we had a dry winter it was always fun to see how far the sled would go across the surface of the lake. Or sometimes I’d grab my skates and head for one of the local ice skatin’ rinks.
On weekends or during Christmas Vacation (yes, it was called Christmas Vacation back then) I’d go out hiking down in the city park. Redwood had a beautiful city park that was set in a beautiful valley, and was known by its nickname as the “little Yellowstone”. It was a great place for a young boy to get out in the woods and get some badly needed exercise.
There was a time when I used to even ride my bike during the winter. I had a paper route; me and my brother Kevin used to deliver the St. Paul Pioneer Press all over Redwood, and Dad wasn’t going to be doing it for us. We had to do it, and that meant transportation. We had to either walk or ride our bikes; only on the coldest days or right after a big snowstorm would my dad take us around in the car. So I had “snow tires” on my bike, with a nice, heavy tread. And I spent many an early winter morning riding my bike around the town.
Evenings often meant popcorn, popped by my mom in a pan on top of the stove, then put in a roaster pan to keep it warm; and eaten by my brothers and I, Mom and Dad, and any other friends we happened to have over, while watching such TV shows as Red Skelton, Carol Burnett, Ed Sullivan, Gunsmoke, or Bonanza on our black-and-white TV set.
I also spent lots of time out on the sun porch through the winter, because that’s where our good old piano was located, and that’s where I learned classical music, the big band hits, and even rock and roll!
Today I am a grandpa myself, driving a car or a van that starts willingly way down below zero, making my way down snow-covered roads to work in a shop on vehicles that come in with six inches of snow on their roofs. I really don’t like winter very much any more. It means all my work is that much harder, and I can no longer play in the snow and cold like I used to when I was a kid. My body just won’t let me.
But I have some pretty special memories of this time of year.