I’m deep in the winter doldrums as we brace for another round of storms here in Virginia. My husband and I spent yesterday afternoon getting firewood for the woodstove in the event we lost power again. I made a mental note that any farmhouse we purchase when he retires must have a large, working fireplace in a central location. I’ve grown soft in my old age and don’t relish the cold.

As a child, I didn’t spend hours outside like my friends. The heat and cold didn’t play nice with my wonky nervous system, so I stayed inside enjoying the company of Nancy, George, and Bess. When I did play in the snow, the brothers loved to hurtle down the hills of our farm on our old, wooden sled with me clinging to their backs like a Capuchin monkey, praying I would survive.

We lived at the base of Grand Mesa outside the small town of Cedaredge. It was the 1970s, and parents let their children run feral. We certainly did. Snow often reached depths of several feet, and in the cold, winter days, a crust would form allowing children to walk across the top, our feet barely denting the surface. The brothers rolled giant snowballs that they carved out into their version of igloos. We didn’t know it could collapse and smother us. The hindsight of parenthood made me realize we lived on the edge back then. It was so much fun.

On snowy days, we donned snow pants, parkas, and gloves. My mother slipped bread bags she saved over our sock-covered feet. Our feet stayed dry inside our boots, and those bags dotted with red, yellow, and blue dots made colorful fashion statements. When we finished playing, we trekked to the house, red-cheeked and tired, to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate made by whisking powdered Nesquick into a cup of milk heated in a saucepan. No microwaves and instant gratification back then. The three of us would sit on the hearth of our fireplace waiting for our faces and fingers to thaw.

Six-year-old me getting ready to slide down the slope with a big push from Daddy as the brothers wait their turn.

In the evening, exhausted from play, we would climb into our pajamas, drag our sleeping bags out to the living room floor, and settle in to watch whatever show the antenna would pick up. Three channels and the pickings were slim, but we were never bored.

Today, I have hundreds of channels, unlimited access to information, but few things keep my attention. It’s sad, but we are starving from our gluttony of choice. Things weren’t always wonderful back then, but some things, like a snowy winters day spent sledding on a hillside, were truly magical.


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