Each year about this time two lines from an old song I can’t entirely remember echo through my mind. “Summer’s almost gone. Winter’s comin’ on.”
I remember the old days when the eight children were still little, and the first snowfall brought thoughts of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and plenty of snow for snowballs and snowmen, for sledding and for shoveling.
And I remember cabin fever after being snowed in with eight kids for several days. In fact, the cabin fever got so bad one year that my friend Carole and I hiked several blocks through hip-deep snow drifts to get supplies like bread and milk, and candy and chocolate. The bread, milk, and candy were for the kids. The chocolate was for us.
That was the year the boys got into a pillow fight in the bedroom. It escalated into a real war which was ended when someone threw a shoe through a window. I looked through the shattered glass to the huge snowdrift below that had swallowed the shoe, leaving no trace. No worry, he didn’t need the shoe until the snow melted.
I taped a cardboard gift box across the open window, and called my husband at work. His supervisor answered.
“Tell Bill to bring home a pane of glass for the back bedroom window,” I said.
“Uh, what?” he asked.
I repeated my request, but made no effort to explain it. The poor guy had no children. I knew he just wouldn’t understand. He had totally freaked out the day I called and asked him to tell Bill our TV set was on fire.
When I remember winters past, I think of mittens and gloves—dozens of them. The first trip outside the children all had brand new matching pairs of mittens or gloves. After ten minutes, the matching pairs were drying on the hot air registers and the kids were outside with mismatched mittens. When those got wet they got creative and replaced them with socks.
“Socks for mittens?” I questioned.
“Why not,” they reasoned. “The only difference is socks don’t have a thumb hole.”
They were right. And we never seemed to run out of socks. They might not match, but there were always more stuck somewhere.
As soon as the blizzards began, I remember making a huge kettle of vegetable soup. Believe it or not, the soup was not only lunch, but also the snack of choice. As it dwindled we just added more broth and more vegetables. It bubbled on the back burner until the snow was finally cleared and school was back in session.
I remember feeling exhilarated after the snow was shoveled off the walks and out of the driveway. And I remember feeling irritated after the snow plows went by and packed tons of snow right back on the walks and in the driveway. In fact, I remember feeling that way just last winter. Some things never change.
But still, winter’s comin’ on, and I’m ready for it. I told Bill, “I can hardly wait for the snow to come.”
He gave me the “look” and snorted, “That’s because you don’t have to shovel it!”
As usual he’s right. I believe winter is best appreciated through a window from inside a warm house.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on Nov. 6, 1996.