Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - December 14, 2018


It's snow fun!

When we were kids, a fresh winter snow ushered in a time of fun. Brother Dave, sister Gaila and I made snowmen and had snowball fights as soon as there was enough to cover the ground. And when it melted a bit, we begged Dad to pull our wooden sled behind the pickup. Those were wild rides, with the sled careening from side to side on ice-covered country roads.

One winter, a deep snow canceled school. Dad was out of cigarettes and insisted on walking to town to buy some. Gaila and I went with him. The snow had a crusty top, allowing us to walk the mile and a half unimpeded most of the way. But at times, we broke through and found ourselves up to our hips.

Daughters Mariya and Katie have good winter memories too. One year, they made a snowy “Jabba the Hut” - a beast from the “Star Wars” movie. Mariya called their creation “Jabba does Hoth” - a reference to the icy planet from the same movie franchise. Another time, they made “Olaf” from Disney’s “Frozen” movie. Mariya said when she was little, she pretended she was “Edward Scissorhands” sculpting ice masterpieces on our deck.

Nieces Gabriela and Larisa grew up in La Paz, Bolivia, where they only saw snow on the top of Mount Illimani. So when they came to the States, they were initially thrilled to have snow to play in. Gabriela spent one spring break with friends in North Dakota, where they were practically buried in snow and passed the time by building a snow bunny. Larisa remembers making a snowman with Katie on Mom’s deck instead of sweeping the snow away, as Mom had asked.

Friend Bryce and his brothers were a bit more ingenious than some kids.

... On the farm with some hydrants that had to be used each day, we always had a hose and milk pails ready and had the option of spraying or sprinkling our forts and the snow balls with water at night to allow them to freeze and solidify ... spraying the snow forts lightly with water at night made a nice icy coating and allowed them to last longer when the snow eventually began to melt ...

Husband Art grew up in Wisconsin, where going ice fishing is a big deal. He said eight inches of ice will easily hold a large car. Still, he worried about breaking through, but only sinking far enough so the doors couldn’t be opened. So when he went out, he drove with the doors partly open in case he broke through.

“On big lakes, wind could shift the ice and when you tried to leave, you might find an area of open water,” he said. “You then drove toward the opposite shore. But those were only occasional worries. The real challenge was going to the bathroom. The cold wind meant you were really small and it was hard to avoid going down your leg!”

As people get older, they realize heavy snows aren’t always fun and games. Uncle Stan, who grew up during the Depression, recalled one incident that made a lasting impression.

... One time the wind was blowing a gale and snow blew into the attic. I had to get up there and box it up and hand it down to someone so the melting snow wouldn’t cause problems in the house.

He said he and my Dad could occasionally see frost on their blanket when they awoke because the moisture in their breath condensed in their unheated bedroom.

Friend Herve, who grew up in France, now resides with his family in Charleston, South Carolina, an area that receives very little snow.

... not sure if funny or pathetic, but snow can be challenging when it happens in an area every 20 years ... The temps during the day were just raising enough to melt a little bit the surface so that it could re-freeze back during the night. Since there is no snow truck and salt is used only for cooking, the office was closed for 3 days ...

Nephew Paul’s wife Rachel shared a story that had a serious and a playful side.

When I was little, probably around 6 or 7, we had a huge snowstorm that hit right after we got on the bus for school. We didn’t even make it to the 3rd stop before they radioed for her to turn around and take everyone home. It snowed like crazy all day and most of the next too. My dad had to get outside so he could feed the cattle and horses and make sure everything at the feedlot was ok. The drifts were so bad he had to tunnel out of our front door! ...

But she said even he could see the potential for fun in the situation.

... When he came home that afternoon, he said the back of the house was covered to the top of the windows with snow, and that it would be fun to jump off the roof into the drifts ... so we did! My mom was so mad, but when we survived she had a good laugh about it ...

Another incident involved sledding, and Rachel’s story makes mine pale by comparison.

Because we lived on the plains of Colorado, where it was relatively flat, the sledding wasn’t exactly easy to come by. After one particularly great snow, our friends brought their helicopter and they attached a long waterskiing rope between the helicopter and my little red saucer sled. Everyone had a great time being pulled around the fields (except me, because my dad said I was too small and lightweight) until someone fell off and the sled flew up and broke against the blades. I was so mad that they broke my sled, but let’s just stop to laugh at the idea of sledding behind a flipping helicopter. Super safe ...

While all these stories brought good feelings to those relating them, it struck me that many had a serious side to them, even including elements of danger. It wouldn't take much to make snow fun into no fun!


Clockwise from top left: On their 2013 visit to Manhattan, Kansas, Herve's son Paul and daughter Emma enjoyed playing in the snow; Mariya sliding down our driveway; a neighbor who took advantage of a snowfall to create an army of snowmen. The farm field across the highway was home to many more; Mariya and Katie with their Olaf; Katie sliding down the driveway.



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