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Blog: Snow Fort–Childhood Memoir : I deal in hope

I deal in hope : Carolyn R Scheidies

Blog: Snow Fort–Childhood Memoir

The snow started falling before bedtime. Large flakes drifted from the sky, settling softly on the ground.  Cold fogged up the windows when we breathed on them.

As twilight turned to night, the snow fell faster and harder, faster and harder. As I lay in bed, I heard it pelting the roof and sides of the two-story house. Excitement stirred. I loved snow and smiled in anticipation as I fell asleep.

The next morning, rays from the sun warmed me. Throwing back the covers, I pattered to the window and stared out at the wonderland of crystal-white snow. Already the sun shone in a blue sky, giving a false impression of warmth. The yard and driveway lay under several feet of snow. Below, Dad shoveled the driveway.

“I’ll come help,” I yelled through the closed window. Dad looked up in the direction of the window as though he actually heard. Leaving my older sister Karin asleep, I haphazardly pulled on warm, Winter-weight clothes, and rushed down the stairs to the kitchen. The smell of pancakes and eggs made my mouth water, but in my rush to get outside, I almost didn’t care.

“I wanna go help Dad scoop,” I claimed, standing as tall as my seven-year-old body would stretch.

Mom bustled about the kitchen in her practical, no-nonsense way. “Not until you eat breakfast. Then we’ll see.”

“But…I wanna go now!”

Her look spoke volumes. With her delicious breakfast waiting to be eaten, and my traitorous stomach rumbling, I nodded. Plunking into a chair by the kitchen table, I gobbled down everything Mom put on my plate. (I’d never been a picky eater.) I ate until Mom and my stomach were satisfied.

The next part of getting out the back door entailed a heavy coat, a long knitted scarf wrapped around my neck and tucked into the coat, a hood pulled up and tied so tight I could scarcely see, thick mittens, and stiff boots.

I waddled more than walked down the five or six steps to the back entrance and out the back door. At least I made it. Finally, snow. Beautiful, deadly snow. Burr. The cold slapped me in the face and took away my breath.

The bright shining sun made everything seem deceptively warm. Maybe if I got further out from the under hang of the house. Yes, the sun was warm, but the air remained chill. “Daddy, can I help?”

Straightening, Dad tried to keep the twitch from his lips. “Umm. I only have one shovel.” He pointed. “That might suit you better.”

I stared at a thick mound of snow as high as Dad’s head. He’d been busy while I ate breakfast. I blinked back tears. Didn’t he want me to help? Kindness softened his gaze. “Might make a splendid house.”

I saw it then—a snow palace. Imagination kicked into overdrive. Mom gave me a small bowl and I dived in. While Dad shoveled the rest of the driveway (without my “help”), I scooped out the inside of the snow mound. Before the morning ended, I had a perfect little house, complete with little round windows.

Dad finished his scooping, but I played in my little house all afternoon. It was amazingly warm under the mound of snow. That house was the best snow house I ever made.

I wonder, had Dad piled the snow with me in mind? Did he guess I’d want to spend time outside with him? He found a way to keep me busy and happy without either getting in his way or being injured.

That was Dad.

By Carolyn R Scheidies
From Tales of a Simpler Time: Wisconsin Childhood Remembered

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