Snow and Spring

We’re feeling a little battered up here by our fourth nor’easter in three weeks.  It adds insult to injury that it’s snowing on the second day of spring.  At least the daffodils and tulips haven’t started to bloom yet, so they aren’t freezing or covered with snow.

This time of year I long for bright colors and warmth.  Too many months of black and white and gray make spring seem even further away.  Maybe it’s time to make an Easter basket and pretend the snow isn’t there.

My mother loved dyeing eggs, in the most vivid shades possible.  She’d dip them until they were deep purple or robin’s egg blue.  No pastels for her!  She also loved to shop for my Easter basket.  She knew I loved stuffed animals, so every year I got one along with the chocolate rabbit and the other candy in my basket.  She still made Easter baskets for me when I was in high school.

Mother was also a fan of the elaborate cakes featured in Good Housekeeping and other “women’s magazines” for holidays.  One year she tried to duplicate one for Easter that used tiered cake pans (like a wedding cake), decorated with coconut nests dyed green and jelly beans for Easter eggs.  I think the cake must have been too “short” (too much butter/shortening) because the layers crumbled as she iced it.  It ended up looking like a mountain with coconut nests clinging to the sides.

My nephew and I told her it was pretty and ate big slices when she cut it.  And it was delicious!  It just didn’t look like the magazine picture.

I wish you and yours the colors of Easter eggs, the sweetness of chocolate, and lots of spring flowers!

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Snow Days

We had a snow day here in New York on Thursday.  The city that never sleeps rarely shuts down, but the kids did get a day off from school.  I took a PTO day from work and avoided a snowy, icy commute.  It was nice to have a day at home, but I don’t have the enthusiasm for snow days that I did as a child.

Snow days were rare where we lived in Tennessee.  We usually got ice storms and just a little snow, maybe twice in the winter.  The state of the roads decided whether the schoolsnow-day buses could run.  Every time the weather forecast called for sleet or snow, I did a “snow dance” in the living room in front of the TV. Waiting for the school bus on a country road in the dark and cold of winter was not my idea of fun, and I was thrilled whenever we didn’t have to go to school.

Snow days were actually cozy as long as the power didn’t go out.  Ice on the trees often meant broken branches and downed power lines.  We had a wood-burning stove in the garage for emergencies like that.  Daddy made sure we always had a stack of wood split before winter came so we were prepared.  Snow days were a little bit of a break for him when he was a school bus driver, although he always had to feed the cows in the winter, no matter what the weather.

I remember one storm where we were out of school for two or three days on account of the ice.  When the roads began to clear, Daddy drove Mother and me up to my aunt and uncle’s house on the main road.  Aunt Eunice had made her version of spaghetti for lunch.  Friends of Italian descent, make sure you’re sitting down when you read this!  It involved ground beef and canned tomatoes, and was cooked in a crock pot.  That was the only spaghetti and meat sauce I ever had before I went to college.  It was a little greasy–I guess that was the ground beef!

After lunch, the adults played Rook, a card game that doesn’t have face cards.  They were brought up that normal playing cards were sinful, so Rook was the game of choice.  They would laugh and joke, and I read a book.

Daddy had an inspiration one snow day when I was in high school.  He took the hood off an old car which was no longer working, turned it upside down, and fixed it to the back of his tractor with a chain.  “Baby doll, you want to ride?” he asked me.  I enthusiastically jumped in, and he hauled me up and down the road on that car hood sled.  My cousins Dale and Don asked to borrow it when we were done, and Daddy unhooked it from the tractor.  They pushed it off a hill in their yard and jumped on board.  It was impossible to steer, so they ran straight into a tree.  One of them broke his arm–I think it was Don.

Share some memories of your snow days!

A Winter’s Day

This was the Halloween snow of 2011!
This was the Halloween snow of 2011!

Snow days are not what they used to be for me, and for most adults, I think.  This winter has been extra-super-awful so far, all across the country for the most part.  It’s rare for businesses to shut down and for the governor to say, “Stay off the roads!”  So most of us have to try to get to work through the aftermath of snowstorms or spend hours in traffic (or on stalled trains) trying to get home.  I end up tired, cranky and sore from shoveling my car out of its parking spot.

When I was a child in Tennessee snow days were a rare treat.  Even an ice storm was welcome as long as the power didn’t stay off very long.  If we got one or two per winter we were thrilled.  Mother always said, “You won’t be so glad when you have to stay in school this summer,” but summer was far away.  A day out of the normal routine was well worth making up in May.

Once the snow stopped falling we usually managed to get out and visit my aunts and uncles on the neighboring farms.  Daddy’s truck could go most anywhere once he put the chains on.  He made sure everyone had groceries and would make runs to the little store at Stringtown, which never closed for anything (except the owner’s whim.)

Often Aunt Eunice would have us up for lunch, for her version of chili spaghetti, made in a crock pot.  Don’t ask!  It bore no resemblance to either dish, but it was tasty and warming on a cold day.  Mother and Daddy would then play Rook with Aunt Eunice and Uncle Tip, while I read a book.  Then we would slowly grind our way down the hill in low gear all the way home, the chains on the tires smacking the pavement.

If it was cold enough I would get to let our dog in the garage for the night, which was a huge thrill for him.  Normally he slept in his doghouse, or in warm weather he slept in a hollow he dug below my bedroom window.  He was never allowed in the house per se.  Mother thought having animals indoors was dirty and was impervious to pleading on this subject.

I remember getting up early the next day and listening to the radio to see if school would be out again.  I don’t think we ever got more than a couple of days in a row.  So I’d have to get bundled up and stand out at the bus stop in the dark, waiting for the sun to come up and the bus to come.  Back to normal again–with hopes for another snow day soon.