Snow Days

Posted by Gail Gabrielson at 17 January 2011

Category: Memoir

Tags: ,

This morning I snapped the hood back onto my coat and slipped my arm in the sleeve. Ew, the cuff was damp. I’d washed my coat last night, and it wasn’t quite dry. I zipped it up and went out the door anyway. I didn’t want to be bothered with digging through the closet to find a different coat.

I’d tossed my coat in the washer when I noticed some make-up foundation on the collar of my coat, and then after looking it over, noticed some plain-old grime around the cuffs and along the sleeves. This is only the second year I’ve worn this coat which is a lovely shade of aqua, trimmed in black.

I spot-treated the make-up on the collar, but figured the detergent would take out the grime on the cuffs. Or not. When I took the coat out of the dryer, I still had dirt around the cuffs and down the arms. It’s not terribly noticeable, but now that I’ve seen it, I notice it. So I’m going to have to wash my coat again, and treat the cuffs and arms with some spotter.

When I got to work, I realized the one cuff was much damper than I’d thought. It was so damp that it dampened the cuff of the sweater I have on. And all of  a sudden, memories of playing in the snow and ice skating came back.

When we came in from playing outdoors in the snow, we could have used a dryer in the entry of the house. We’d be cold and wet and covered with snow and snow pebbles from head to foot. We’d drag off our snowpants and jackets, and sling them down the stairs to the basement where the dryer was.

Cheeks reddened and wrists chapped from the cold, we’d put on dry clothes and take turns putting our outerwear in the dryer. Sometimes we’d take bowls to the basement and dish up some ice cream from the freezer. (I don’t know what possessed us to want something cold to eat!)

Once our coats and snowpants were dry, we’d pull them out of the dryer and sometimes put them right back on and go back outside to play. There were at least two years when I was growing up that we’d had a LOT of snow — blizzards in 1966 and 1968. I think my sister and brother had a fort built in the snow, but I probably didn’t want to play there once I’d seen it, due to mild claustrophobia.

Every winter it was a challenge to find ice skates that fit. We had several pairs to choose from; I don’t know how or where we got them. I just remember trying different ones on to see which ones would fit this year.

There were two ice ponds to choose from in town — one that was nearly on the opposite side of town, and the other that was a mere four blocks away. The farther of the two ice ponds was always larger and smoother. The closer one didn’t have a warming house either. I think we were lucky if we had a bench out there to sit on to don our skates.

My older sister is a born athlete, so she was the better skater of us, more daring and skillful on a single blade. She could skate backwards (on roller skates, too) and could do spins and a half-decent jump. I was just content to skate along without my ankles bending and without tripping on a bump in the ice.

At least one winter my skating career was cut short when I tripped and fell and broke my arm. The other kids wouldn’t believe me, but I’d been there, done that before, so I knew when my arm was broke. At least falling with a coat on protected my arm from breaking really bad — I think they set it right there in the office and sent me home once the cast had hardened. I was an old hand at it by then. This was Number Four.

Trying to fnd a coat that my cast fit in was a challenge. I think at first I just put the coat on over my slinged arm, and then when I had graduated to a smaller cast, it fit in the sleeve. What an annoyance. It didn’t stop me from skating. It didn’t stop me from much, as I recall. When my right arm was in a cast, I wrote with my left hand. If my arm was in a cast in the summertime, I just put a big plastic bag over my cast, and went wading in the swimming pool.

Some 20 years later, I tried ice skating again when my daughter was suiting up for a skate at our little local pond. I found a pair of skates that fit and put them on. Standing was no problem, but moving was. I just didn’t like going so fast! I was afraid I’d fall down, and falling down as an adult is scarier. I made a couple of rounds on the pond and was content to watch my daughter from the warming house bench. She can make some pretty turns and jumps, too.

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