by Nancy McDaniel
Why is it that so many things that delighted us as children now just frustrate and infuriate us as adults?
Just when we Chicagoans foolishly thought it was safe to start thinking about spring, we recently received the quintessential end-of-the-winter blizzard.
We had ample warning. In fact, we had so much warning that the airlines, who must have been Boy Scouts, overdid their “Be Prepared” credo. They cancelled many flights hours before the first flake ever fell. Just in case. Now that was annoying, I’m sure, to all the people who were stranded at the airport.
Here’s one thing I loved about snow as a child: Making snow angels. Do kids still do that? Now that angels are “in,” on TV, on greeting cards and dolls, maybe snow angels take on some sort of spiritual overtones. When I was a kid, however, they were just fun. We’d bundle up in snow parkas, leggings, hats, scarves and mittens (of course, having to go to the bathroom just one more time after we had put on all our gear).
Then we’d waddle out to a smooth, flat, clean patch of show. We’d carefully lie down, so as not to make any extra marks before we made our angels, with our arms at our sides, at the ready. Then, on the count of three, we’d all madly flap our arms up and down quickly, up to shoulder level, then down to our sides again, to make beautiful angel wings. Then we’d carefully get up, again trying not to disturb our angels. We’d admire them briefly, then run off to get mom to show her what we’d done.
Last night I was invited to hear a reading of a new play. I actually debated whether or not to go, as the big flakes began to fall, with a foot of snow predicted. Then I remembered how hardy we Chicagoans are supposed to be. That, combined with the fact that the theater was only a mile away, got me out of the door, into my little red car. I worried during the entire reading that my no-snow shovel-in-the-trunk car would be buried when I got out. Or that it would be plowed in by the eager Chicago snowplow drivers. Or that it would be towed away because I had inadvertently parked on a “snow route.” As it turned out, the car was fine (the play was better), if covered with snow and slush. I got home safely.
Acid Rain in Your Ice Cream?
Here’s another thing I loved about snow: snow “ice cream.” Now, I’m sure that sounds really gross today. But back then we knew nothing about acid rain or pollution. And I lived in the suburbs so the snowfall was cleaner, more pristine, or at least we thought it was. At any rate, we all lived through it, so how bad could it have been? Right after the snow fell, I’d bundle up and dash out the kitchen door with a cereal bowl and a big spoon.
I’d carefully scoop the freshest, cleanest, top layer of snow into the bowl, then race back inside. There I’d complete the delicacy, by pouring a little vanilla extract on the snow and mixing it up. I can’t remember if I added anything else to it. I wonder if Martha Stewart knows how to make it? I do remember it tasted delicious and was a wonderful childhood ritual that kids today probably aren’t allowed to do anymore.
Now I sit at the airport. At first, my flight was still scheduled to leave on time. Then, it was delayed for an hour. Now two, as the inbound flight was delayed again and again. Fortunately, it’s not a business meeting I’m missing. I have plenty of time, because, unfortunately, I’m heading to Florida to attend a memorial service for my “second dad.” I’m sure that he and my dad, who were best friends, missed many a business meeting as they were delayed by the snow.
It is frustrating to wait. Cell phones are working overtime. Laptops are pressed into action. People are waiting, some patiently, some not. Tempers are flaring. Mother Nature has struck again. We wait, at the mercy of the wind, the snowplows and the de-icing equipment. I wonder momentarily if I should worry about flying in this weather. But I’ve done it so many times that I dismiss the thought, as quickly as it flew into my head.
The Silver Coaster
And then I remember another favorite childhood snow memory: Flying down the hill across the street on the silvery cover of the garbage can. Not Rubbermaid green, but stainless steel or galvanized metal or something. It was much more exciting than my sled – harder to control, faster, riskier. Sure it was probably stupid to do too, just like the acid rain ice cream. But these were the carefree days before seat belts and car seats and bike helmets. Before we knew better.
So we just innocently and unknowingly hurtled down the hill. The only bad thing that happened to us is we got really cold and really wet. Our cheeks were red, our noses dripping and we were happy. And we couldn’t wait for the next snow to start playing all over again.
The plane is delayed again. I wish I could go make snow angels.