Winter Games of Childhood

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant – Anne Bradstreet

We are having one of the coldest winters in Germany in a long time and it reminds me of the cold winters in Minnesota when we were kids. My mother would paint snowflakes on the windows when we were small and one Christmas she painted the three of us on the window kneeling at a crèche. I haven’t thought of that in years. Makes me have a different feeling about her when I remember it.

When we were smaller before my Dad got his first snow blower, the snow would pile up on the boulevards to what seemed like great mountains. We would try to tunnel from one end to the next or build “forts” in the highest snow near the driveways and have snow ball fights with the neighbor kids. I remember it feeling like a great adventure. It was different with the snow blower; the snow doesn’t pile as much.

We used to go sledding on the hill across the small river behind my parent’s house that we called “the Crick”. The hill was basically covered with trees but that was part of the fun, dodging between them to get to the bottom. Once we didn’t make it and the fancy toboggan my dad had bought had a wonderful dent in the front curl. But like with all things, he found a way to fix it for us and we used it a long time.

The Crick is where I remember skating, shoveling off the snow to make a rink but I think we learned to ice skate on the Lagoon, which was organized and you had to pay to skate there at least during the day. I have a vague memory of the whole family skating on the lagoon, even my Dad but that maybe wrong. I don’t remember how long it took me to learn to ice skate either. Funny that. Maybe it wasn’t so hard. We all wanted to be Peggy Fleming and glide like an angel over the ice. I know I never achieved that but some school mates got pretty good. When I got older I would go to the Lagoon alone at night and skate. That seems pretty much like craziness now but it was a simpler world back then or at least it seemed like it.

The ice on the Crick was also a hockey rink at least for the boys. I remember my younger brother coming home with a mouth full of blood, minus most of his two front teeth after a hockey stick missed the puck and found his face. Great drama and stainless steel caps. As we all got older, I don’t remember us spending much time on the ice. It was mostly my older brother playing football on the snow covered field around the corner. I remember feeling privileged to stand in the freezing cold and being the line marker for where the ball was supposed to be since there were no lines in the snow. Silly really but being a part of it was all that mattered.

The last winter in Minnesota that I remember is the one when my dad died. Ten days later was Christmas Eve and I remember the temperature being minus 95 degrees with the wind chill. I don’t think I really noticed.

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  1. Having returned to Minnesota following some years in the Arizona desert I am seeing anew. Memories have been stirred and, like yours, most are sweet. I laughed when I read your reference to the “crick” having just explained its meaning to a coworker in the Southwest. And, your words about your dad touched me having lost sear ones in this season. I was left with an appreciation of the stillness that winter brings (if we can pull ourselves away from our screens). I am looking out at a fresh 5 inches of white in a clean carpet and frosting on the trees. It is a perfect background in which to remember these things. Thank you for the push on the toboggan.

    1. Thanks for the great memories Sher. I live in nature here and that brings up so many memories from the past. So sorry to hear of your loss. Best wishes to you.

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