The joys of playing in the snow | News, Sports, Jobs
Don’t tell my parents, but as a teenager I had more car accidents than they realize.
Almost all of these untold stories involve snow, and only one includes another car (they discovered that one). The friendliness of strangers along Long Rapids Road has saved me more than once. Black ice on twisty roads is tricky, especially for an inexperienced driver like me.
Winter driving destroyed my love of snow.
Before that, snow and ice were synonymous with fun. What else could you use to build forts, do trail mazes, ski and throw to friends all in an afternoon? Snow was nature’s LEGO, and my friends and I were its architects. I acquired a fearless love for her. Even when my parents’ car once got lost on icy roads, my first reaction was to shout, “Let’s do it again!” »
I cheered on blizzards like they were racehorses and was often glued to the weather channel in anticipation of the next attack. A school closure was at the level of hearing your numbers come out in the lottery.
It was all about snow. Every time the weather changed, I wanted more.
My love of winter even helped me ice fish. Not being a fan of fish, I initially dreaded going there. Looking through the hole near my feet changed everything. It was fascinating to see shards of ice dancing around my line as I waited for a fish to bite. I’m struggling to sit still, but perching there in the ice shack forced the world to slow down.
It was a great place to daydream and have a casual chat or two with my dad. In the end, I lost my balance and badly burned my right hand instinctively grabbing the heater for support. Despite everything, I still remember the expedition fondly. It was a good day.
Like many things, snow has lost its magic with age. Life was now more work-oriented. Shoveling, heating bills, and having enough insulation in my attic were all frequent thoughts. Because of that, I stopped having fun in the snow.
Such fun was for children, and I was an adult. Snow and ice became something that only got in the way.
The worst part was driving I-94 during a bad snowstorm year. Unable to miss work, I drove 75 miles a day to visit my premature newborn son, who was in the NICU at Kalamazoo Hospital, and my wife still recovering. It was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done.
Luckily, my white-knuckle, caffeinated trips didn’t include any crashes. I had learned growing up in Alpena that you have to take your time with the snow. I knew how to be slow and steady. If I rushed, I would only end up in a ditch. I had learned that lesson the hard way on Long Rapids Road years before.
Two winters in western Michigan, however, were enough.
Simply put, sleep deprivation, my natural clumsiness, a rookie teacher’s salary, and ice cream weren’t a good combination for my nerves. My thoughts were taken up with heating bills, medical insurance, and a rental home that was unsafe for a newborn.
I had neither the time nor the energy to enjoy the snow. Winter was only there to complicate my life. I retired to England in defeat.
Contrary to what the movies would have you believe, it doesn’t snow much in England. It may be a little further north than Alpena, but ocean currents keep the winters generally warmer and decidedly wetter. In Old English, the name for February is “Solmonath”, which roughly means “the month of mud”. Having lived here for several years, it’s an incredibly accurate name.
Last year we were lucky to have two inches of snow. That’s it. Those two whole inches fell off in a few hours one weekend. Seizing the opportunity, I dragged the children outside before they merged with the mud. We scooped up all the snow we could find and built a single defensive wall barely as high as my knees, along with a small snowman. Although nowhere near as impressive as the constructions of my childhood, it marked a change in my attitude towards snow.
I still enjoyed it.
This kind of model was not limited to snow. A lot of things I loved as a kid I couldn’t as a young adult. They only recently became fun again.
Playing a musical instrument, swimming, painting and visiting the library are examples. I stopped doing everything. It was too easy to get caught up in the craziness of 24-hour news and life.
I have since learned that I have more control over my time than I thought. I now make sure to stop, find a good pair of gloves and go play in the snow.
Matthew Pugh is a technical architect and software developer who was born and raised in Alpena. He now lives in Suffolk, England, with his wife, Rowena, three children, a cat, a dog and a dangerous number of guinea pigs. He can be contacted at [email protected]