On a cold winter’s evening you hear the prediction for quite a bit of snow throughout the night, so you stay up a bit later thinking, “surely we’ll at least have a delay in the morning.” The next thing you know, your alarm is blaring at 5:30 a.m. You slap the snooze a few extra times waiting for the phone call, text, facebook post, email, WNDU, WSBT…..any and all formats welcome. There at the bottom of the screen, West Central……..West Noble…….then Westville?? No Westview? Wait, I know E comes before L in the alphabet, do they think we are Westville? By the time the list gets to Whitko you realize, no delay, no school closing, you’re going to be late, hurry up!
In Massachusetts we didn’t have delays growing up, and the snow days were few and far between. The word on the street was if Superintendent Donald Frizzle could get his car out of his driveway, we were going to school. But when those glorious snow days came, we didn’t care if our school year was literally going to end in July, we were ecstatic. Sledding, skating, skiing, building structures out of snow until our fingers and toes were just short of frost bite, and by the time Dad got home from work, the driveway had better be shoveled!
Ice skating meant Climbing Woods Pond where the trees curved up out of the ice, back down under and up again giving us arches to skate under, through, and that one very long tree that appeared to rest merely one foot above the ice provided a nice bench to put our skates on, or enjoy a warm hot chocolate from the insulated thermos we brought from home. Although skating on a frozen pond is a blast, I always took a bit of time to lay face down and gaze into the ice that usually froze clear. You could see the leftover colored leaves from the fall, and an occasional fish as if in an arctic fish tank.
Skating was brought to a different level when we went to Plum Brook. Gliding along the winding stream, under the bridge on Pomeroy Lane, and through the woods to Rocco’s Pond. Rocco’s Pond was much larger than Climbing Woods Pond, and would often have a lot more snow to shovel off in order to skate. There were a few places where the ice was a bit more volatile. My sister, Debbie was working hard to shovel off a place for us to skate one year when she plunged into the icy stream. It was a bit past knee deep at that place, so although very unpleasant, we were blessed that it wasn’t the center of the pond.
We inevitably got incredible amounts of snow in Western Massachusetts, however, each winter there would usually be at least one ice storm that created several inches of a strong crust over the snow. It was in these conditions that I enjoyed my favorite skating activity, downhill ice skating. We went into the hilly cow pasture that wedged a sledding paradise between Climbing Woods Pond and Plum Brook. I felt that I had invented this quite dangerous winter pastime. Secretly I think the reason I liked it so much was because it was the first thing I could do better than Debbie and David, who are four and five years older than me. To make it from the top, over a few moguls and still remain on your feet by the time the run reached the brook was exhilarating for me.
Tim also grew up skating, but in inner city Toledo, Ohio he didn’t have the luxury of streams, ponds and woods to skate through. His wonderfully creative mother made a skating rink each winter between St. Lucas Lutheran Church where his Dad was the Pastor, and the parsonage. The four boys had impromptu hockey games all winter long.
With our own children, Tim and I did enjoy providing ice skating activities, but we were a little too worried to set them free on Shipshe Lake.
By the time Holly was old enough to skate on her own, we had moved to Emmatown, and the skating gave way to alternative snow improvisations.