Thursday, December 29, 2016

These Old Walkin' Shoes: Let it Snow, Let it Snow

This week’s “Walkin’ Shoes” is kind of a hybrid between “Walkin’ Shoes” and “Reminscing.” Since it is now cold outside and there is ice and snow on the sidewalks, I have not been able to keep my morning walk routine going. I don’t like the cold, and I don’t like slipping. Instead, when I was driving into work I had some thoughts roll through my head as I looked at the bit of snow we got this morning.

We got about an inch of snow, maybe a little less. In the lead-up to this precipitation, I got no less than four weather notifications on my phone warning me of impending winter doom. Then as I was driving behind an All-Wheel Drive truck on the way to work doing 12-14 miles per hour, I thought to myself, “What happened to all the Buffalo bravado about winter weather not bothering us?” We’re up in arms over a virtual dusting of snow, but that’s a column for another time.

We seemed to have a lot more snow when I was a kid. I bet if I looked at the snowfall averages from the 1980s compared to today, there would be a big difference. We had a rather long, stone driveway that my dad used to shovel. He would shovel it to one side so as to not kill the prized hedge of our neighbor, Mr. Enzinna. That left a rather large pile of snow alongside the driveway from the garage to the house. That was our playground when we were small.

We used to tunnel through those piles of snow. They would be nice and packed and sturdy when we tunneled through. And in those days, we’d get some snow, then it would snow some more, and repeat until we had great piles of snow. It wasn’t like today where we get snow, it melts, and then we might get some more snow later. Anyway, we had the best tunnels ever. It would take a lot of time, but we could crawl from the garage to the patio once we were finished.

We also built snow forts. We built some small ones in the front yard, but we built a monster one in the backyard one time. I think it was Matt Broecker, Erik Woodcock and I hauling snow from other yards to build a monster pile along the side of my dad’s garage. It was easily six feet tall. Once we had all the snow packed in, we started hollowing out the interior. It was quite roomy and unbelievably warm inside considering it was all snow construction. I’m fairly certain that my dad was pretty unhappy with that huge pile of snow leaning against the garage, and he may have been worried that it might collapse and bury us.

Snowball fights were common, and it wasn’t considered bullying. My kids try to do it now, but we don’t get enough snow to make it quite as fun. We used to stockpile our snowballs behind a snowberm for protection.  And then we’d let them fly. We’d cruise through the neighborhood, chasing each other through a mad flurry of projectiles.

A foot of snow also never deterred us from exploring in the woods behind Walnut Street. The creek would be frozen and would slide along it all the way to the UAW Hall. Of course, there were times that the ice wasn’t as thick as we had imagined. Still we kept on playing. Football in deep snow was always fun, although the snow hurt way more than the grass. It was so cold and it would go down sleeves and under shirts.

Today we would all probably go to jail, but back in my day, we’d wait in hiding for the school busses to come by. Then we’d pop up and nail them with snowball after snowball. Sometimes the bus would screech to a halt and the driver would chase us. Other times, we’d hear about it at school through a message to the general population.  I would not suggest throwing snowballs at the bus anymore. It’s really not worth the aggravation.

We used to build awesome snowmen. These snowmen had button eyes and a scarf, hat and mittens. They were bigger than me, almost my dad’s height, and they would stand sentry in the yard until they were the last little piles of snow in the yard in the spring. My kids try, and some of this is my fault, but their snowmen just aren’t the same. I need to get out there and help them build a real, old fashioned snowman.

Yes, I complain about winter now, but it used to be a lot of fun. It still can be. My favorite weather is much warmer, but I do miss the snow (as long as it selectively snows only in the yards so I don’t have to shovel or plow.) A soft blanket of snow is much nicer to look at than a cold, frozen, dead lawn all winter. So, Mother Nature, give us some snow. Despite my misgivings about it, we are desperate need of snow. Just ask my garden.

Craig Bacon’s favorite winter sport is sitting in the window watching other people get cold. The only cold he likes is beer.