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snow (standard:humor, 2892 words)
Author: audonickAdded: Feb 02 2004Views/Reads: 1968/1231Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
The meaning of snow to children and adults alike, with an emphasis on sledding.

One of the most magical words in the vocabulary of a small child is that
of snow.  When snow was in the forecast, I would start checking out the 
windows every few minutes. On several occasions I was in the presence 
of my grandmother. Gran was from the coal cracker region of the state 
and of Irish descent. She had a lilting singsong voice and a twinkle in 
her eye. She would be sitting in her rocker working on her knitting and 
would glance over her glasses each time I went to the window. 

“Travis, what are you doin?” 

“Checkin' to see if it started snowing yet.” I would pull the corner of
the drape to look up into the street light. 

“Get away from the window. A watch pot never boils.” She would say
refocusing her attention on her knitting.  I would become exasperated 
waiting for the snow to start. I'd go to bed and get up several times 
to check to see if we had any snow. 

We grew up in Bucks County, which is just north of Philadelphia, and
snow seems to be cyclic. There were winters that we have no snow at 
all, then there are years where it seems as if it snows every day. 
Therefore, when we had a snowfall with substantial accumulation, this 
usually forced the school systems to close their doors for a day or 
two. This was a holiday for us kids, but a nightmare for parents 
everywhere. It seems that nothing aggravates the P's more than snow. 
Right off the bat, snow means shoveling, and that has a tendency to 
start the day off on the wrong foot. Even the most insistent parents 
have a hard time convincing the kids to shovel the walk. In a child's 
eyes the walk is considered adequately cleared when a path is one 
shovel wide and has patches of pavement visible. Anything more and 
without a doubt, shoveling the car free, is either going to cost you a 
small fee or laryngitis. The next issue that usually arises is what to 
do with the kids.  Unfortunately this is a no win situation for the 
child. Should it be necessary to keep  us indoors, ultimately we would 
start plucking the nerves of the P's.  This is usually accomplished 
within the first thirty seconds after the announcement that school was 
closed. We continue plucking the nerves until there is only one left. 
We continue to play that nerve like a violin and at this point, we were 
usually sent outside no matter what the conditions. Should it be 
blizzard like conditions or raining, you could actually watch the 
graying of the P's hair. Ever hear of the term ‘Cabin Fever'?  We could 
bring that condition upon our parents in less than eight hours time. 
Usually we drove them to some point of insanity where they lost their 
sense of judgment and sent us out to play. 

That usually gave them some time to regain their composure, but that was
short lived. Ever see a parent's face after taking a half-hour to 
bundle a child up to go out into the storm only to be told that they 
now had to go to the bathroom?  Let me tell you that's not a pretty 
sight watching a conniption set in, the eyes and lips twitch before the 
total contortion of the face.  By all means it was much safer to have 
an ‘accident' than to suffer the wrath of a conniption. Then of course, 
we were never satisfied to be out. We would have to run in and out of 
the house a hundred times, leaving puddles wherever we stood for more 
than ten seconds. Within the hour, the house that mom kept so clean and 
kept, would be in shambles and mom herself would be on the verge of a 
nervous breakdown. So you see, where the word snow was a magical word 
to us kids, it was the worst four-letter word in the vocabulary of our 

The most popular winter activity when there was snow on the ground was
sledding. There were a wide variety of sledding possibilities in the 
area.  Right after it had stopped snowing and the plow had made the 
first pass around our street, the best sledding was right down the 
street. The hill was quite steep and made a decent sledding hill. The 
problem was that you had to cross a street when you got to the bottom 
of the hill. With adult supervision, we rarely had an incident. 
However, when we were left to ourselves, the opposite was true. No 
matter who was watching us, we always had a sentry at the bottom of the 
street to signal when it was clear for sledding.  The situation would 
arise when you were considering the oncoming traffic.  We were kids, 
and we didn't know any better. We just assumed that a car could stop as 
well on snow as it did a dry road surface. Never once did we realize 
what made it possible for the sleds to go down the hill had the same 
affect on the car.  Therefore, we were not so good at judging the 

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