The Winter Sun

A winter’s day
In a deep and dark December

"I Am A Rock"
Simon & Garfunkel

My sister told me it was seventy six degrees in Minneapolis today.

Those are not the winters of my youth.

I remember damp and rainy Novembers morphing into frosty Decembers, oftentimes dark and dreary, sometimes laden with dropping snowflakes, and every once in a while, crystal clear, with blue skies, and sparkling snow banks.

That was how it was today in Vail.

I’m standing in line for the Northwoods Express, surrounded by evergreens, yet the sun has found me, and is shining its light upon me, warming me up.

I was reminded of Saturday afternoons in the sixties.  Long before I even learned to ski.  When snow was for Flexible Flyers and toboggans, when my parents would take us to Fairchild Wheeler Golf Course, to ride down the steep slope of the sixteenth hole.  Oftentimes, the toboggan would tip over just shy of the green, in the sand trap, and after checking for injuries, we’d all laugh.

This was prior to fleece and the other technologically advanced winter garments.  We’d be wearing our jeans, and our long underwear purchased at the department store, with dimples embedded within.  We’d eventually get soaked, and then go back home, or to the Sheketoffs’, to dry out.  We’d stand around the fireplace, nearly naked, as Selma boiled milk for hot chocolate, to warm not only our hands, but our insides.

Then there was that day my father came home early on a Saturday morning and said we were all going to Mohawk Mountain, to ski, that fateful second season of our infatuation, when we’d been rained out in Vermont at Christmas.

I remember struggling to attach the ski rack to the VistaCruiser.  I needed to do the job myself, to prove my skill as a man, and to insure an earlier take-off, having relieved my father of the duty.

And when we finally arrived at our destination in the northwestern corner of Connecticut, I noticed the wrench I’d used to attach the rack was still sitting on the hood of the station wagon, by the antenna, its weight having kept it in place for the ride.

And I’m remembering the days off from school.  When we’d listen to the radio, just waiting to hear that Fairfield was giving its students a holiday.  So we could lay in bed a little bit longer, or jump up and watch cartoons, and eventually go out into the snow and play.

And some days, even though school was scratched, by eleven a.m. or noon, the snow would stop falling and there would be a brilliant blue sky.  We’d bundle up, put on our boots, and hats and gloves, and venture out into the winter wonderland.  Alone.  Sans parents.  Knowing that about half an hour after we were just too wet, we’d return to the warmth of home.

Then there was that one big storm.  That completely covered the bushes on the side of the house.  The drifts were so high, we could descend them on our flying saucers.  I never saw that much snow in Connecticut again.  I oftentimes wonder whether it’s because the bushes grew taller or the weather changed.

I believe it’s the latter.  But today, a couple of thousand miles away from the land of my upbringing, there was still enough snow, and the same powerful sun, and I felt warm on the inside, remembering how things used to be.

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