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Monday, February 23, 2015

We Were Tougher Then

I suspect that unless you are passionately into winter sports, you've seen enough of this winter. The sub-zero temperatures, snow days for schools, icy and rutted streets. It's beautiful, to be sure. It is far too cold to turn into charcoal gray slush. But it's still too much. And for whatever reason, I can't stop talking about it. It's like the physical energy of talking about it will make me warmer and remind me it's not as bad as it could be. Is it? (Right -- I don't live in Boston!)
 

We were tougher when we were kids, I think. Snow days were rare -- in fact, I'm really trying to remember any prior to a big blizzard when I was in junior high school. We walked to school, bundled up like Ralphie's brother in "A Christmas Story," wearing thick snow suits, big mittens attached to our sleeves with clips, ear muffs or warm hoods.


We dressed to go to school, undressed when we arrived and put on the gear again for morning recess, the walk home to lunch (and back), afternoon recess and home at 3:30 in the afternoon. After a quick warm-up, we'd be back in the snow again, building snow forts or snow folk, having snowball fights (not my favorite sport) or sledding down our favorite hill.


We were tougher then. We actually liked it.


As I look through my old photos, it seems to me as though there is plenty of snow -- those drifts are tall ones. And while it's fanciful to believe it wasn't as cold back then (and I'm pretty sure the weather records would verify that), it was still pretty darned cold. And yet, there are smiles.


And there was a freedom, the freedom of being a kid. The freedom of play.


Somewhere along the way, that changed for me. I hesitate to take walks, knowing that underneath the layer of snow is a layer of ice, lying in wait. These knees can't take another hit without some very expensive and painful consequences. The already fragile and damaged lungs can't handle breathing in that frigid air without going into a coughing fit. And to be perfectly honest, I just get cold -- and I don't like it.


Yes, we were tougher then. Those of us living in the cold part of the world -- we're tired. Tired of winter, tired of higher utility bills, tired of listening to the radio for snow day closings and grumbling "They never did that when we were in school."  "Let the sunshine in." And please, while the sun is shining, any chance we can get above freezing?

29 comments:

Karen S. said...

Lovely photos of just how I truly liked and enjoyed my winter days, and it's those memories that keep me going winter after winter. Just sorry that our snow this year didn't offer as much good snowman making as it did last year!

Joanne Huffman said...

I remember playing outside in the snow as a kid - I even remember skating across the neighborhood back yards after an ice storm one year. I also remember coming in and demanding (and getting) hot chocolate from my mom, and wrapping myself in a blanket after stripping of my snow-laden clothes. And, my ears would be so cold (even with a snow hat) that they would burn as I warmed up in the house. All said and done, it's OK by me that I don't do that anymore and I look forward to warmer weather.

Beth M. said...

You are so right about the freedom of play!! I used to ski in jeans and sweatshirt, slide around on icy sidewalks, and build snowmen until I was red in the face. Those were the days! :)

Becca said...

I didn’t get much outside time in the winter when I was a kid. I was asthmatic, and the cold always brought on asthma troubles. I missed a lot of school in the winter because of it as it was. But I was jealous of my friends who did seem to be having a wonderful time outside.

I did play outside quite a bit when my son was little - he enjoyed sledding and playing in the snow. Have to say - I wasn’t crazy about it then.
And I”m even less crazy about it now, when, as you say, I’m afraid of falling and the cold makes my bones ache! These days living in the condo I have to go out with my dogs, if not to walk at least monitor them in the yard. Not fun.

Longing for spring right along with you!

psychelyn said...

I didn't grow up in a country with snow so I was always excited to see and feel what it is like. My first snow was in China,I liked it but it rarely happened and it was not enough to play.

When I moved yo Russia, oh I received more than I asked for. It was a tremendous snow and unbearable cold. I enjoyed the first few weeks of it though but later I've had enough. This year was different though. I kinda learned to actually like the cold, I didn't mind lots of snow. It is something I have learned to accept as a part of me.

Although I cannot really say that I was tougher towards cold as a child, I fo unerstand what you're saying.

Your childhood pictures are great :)

annieelf2012 said...

I remember being in 6th grade in Wisconsin during one of my dad's overseas deployments. Mom went to Wisconsin for some reason that year. But, California always beckoned us back and indeed it did. The winter was cold and fun and we were bundled to our noses. We would throw snowballs at each other and I'll never forget a curmudgeonly old man getting made at us for cutting across his snow covered yard. I guess he liked the snow all nice and smooth and unblemished.

I need orange said...

I'm sure you've heard "no sense, no feeling"....... :-)

I think kids have a different value system, and being cold is less important to them than doing what they want to do outside.

I think we are less interested in doing outside things (most of us...), so we mind the cold more. I personally have no interest in sledding or skating (and, like you, was never interested in snowball fights!).....

I'm not tired of winter. :-) I know that "too hot!" is the result of the end of winter, and I'd rather have it cold than too hot. :-)

Mary said...

Oh we were definitely tougher when we were kids. And you're right, snow days off from school were indeed very rare. Now it seems like it's called off before anything even happens.. before a flake falls! What's UP with that? :) And another thing, like you say, i wasn't afraid of falling. I would just get up and go some more, like i was asking for it. But my hips couldn't take many more falls these days. Plus, we didn't have to shovel when we were kids. At least i didn't. When my brother got old enough and strong enough, he helped my Dad..

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

I love those childhood pictures of you in the snow, Jeanie! That bright, sweet face was the same even then! I would have envied you as a child. I grew up in Los Angeles and snow days were very rare -- there was only one major snow. It was in 1949. I was not quite four years old and remember it well because it was such a rare happening. I was out in it as much as my parents would let me! But now I'm just as happy to live in a warm climate and read about all the wintry weather up north. I hope spring comes for you soon!

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

I love those childhood pictures of you in the snow, Jeanie! That bright, sweet face was the same even then! I would have envied you as a child. I grew up in Los Angeles and snow days were very rare -- there was only one major snow. It was in 1949. I was not quite four years old and remember it well because it was such a rare happening. I was out in it as much as my parents would let me! But now I'm just as happy to live in a warm climate and read about all the wintry weather up north. I hope spring comes for you soon!

Maggie said...

Loved seeing little girl you playing in the snow, just adorable,
So hope the sun comes out for you soon.

Quiltmoose - Dagmar said...

Love those childhood photos of yours!
I personally hated snow even as a child and trying to remember I have the feeling that winters were much colder back then with much more snow. But then I am living at a different place... Anyway I wish that winter will end soon for both of us!
Stay warm! Dagmar

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Jeanie, you are an excellent writer. Your repetition of "We were tougher then" is a very effective device in poetry, and you have a winner here....because it's true, and many of us can relate.

I grew up in sunny, HOT California, but have lived my entire adult life in Boston and here in Minneapolis, and yet, your words resonate with me. Yes, we are waiting for this infernal cold to go away. Even I can't take it anymore because since I grew up in such a different environment, the snow and even the cold have been novelties for me, until NOW!

Let us pray!

shoreacres said...

My childhood winters looked exactly like yours. As a matter of fact, my teen-aged winters looked much the same, in the sense that we always were outdoors, doing something. I'd walk (!) home from school, do my homework, and then, after supper, sling my ice skates over my shoulder and walk down to the park. I'd skate for a couple of hours, then walk home. It was wonderful fun.

Honestly, I'm not sure the issue is that we were tougher as kids. I think our whole society has so lost its connection to and understanding of the natural world, we've lost our ability to cope. We expect things always to be comfortable, and when they aren't, we gripe.

Not to dismiss very real concerns about slipping on ice, and so on. Age brings wisdom, too, and if we're wise we do what we can to minimize the dangers of the season. And of course it can drag on -- even down here, where we've only got freezing rain advisories today, there are a lot of people looking at one another and saying, "Enough, already!"

Jenny Woolf said...

I think kids are so adaptable they don't really notice heat and cold, just take it for granted. They have so much else to concentrate on. Mind you by the time I was 11 I really noticed the cold winters in Germany. I remember walking along with frozen frozen feet!

The Artful Diva said...

I'll bet you walked 5 miles uphill in the snow to get to school too :-)

~*~Patty S said...

Everything changes...doesn't it.
You have such an array of precious photos of you as a girl Jeanie...in some you remind me of Shirley Temple ♥
So I may be one of the few that does not complain about winter weather...I enjoy being in hibernation mode.
Now when hot skanky humid weather descends on us here in the Wash DC area I do a bit of kvetching as the heat and I just do not get along.
So sitting here with layers and a nice cup of hot tea seems pretty cozy to me.
Less than a month for spring to arrive ... on the calendar at least ;-)
oxo

Houseelf said...

Thank you for sharing such wonderful photographs. Like you we had snow in Winter in the Cotswolds when I was a kid. There was never so much that we ever got fed up of it. One Winter the film crew arrived in the village because the temperature was lower than Siberia. That was the year I got boot roller skates so I had to clear a large strip of knee high snow so I could try them out. Another year I was at a friend's overnight in Wychwood and it snowed, so I ended up staying the whole weekend until the lane was cleared. We made a huge snowman and lived on hot chocolate. Happy memories. Like you though, I am ready for Spring now. We have snowdrops and crocuses are flowering in my garden. Spring is nearly here.

Marilyn said...

So sorry you are having this cold weather. Praying and believe Spring sunshine will come and melt it all away. I love the pictures of you in the snow as a child. What special memories.

Beth Leintz said...

Sounds very familiar. I dont ever remember saying. "Its too cold" growing up in ND. We just switched our "toys" to skates and sleds.

Barb said...

I love your childhood photos - you look like you! I enjoyed winter play in childhood, and I guess I still haven't outgrown it. (Though I do stay inside when it gets into minus digits.)

Esme said...

Your childhood sounds like mine-I do remember a few snow days-I loved them-great day to stay home and bake. Your photos are adorable.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Those childhood photos are awesome!! I love seeing pictures of others' childhoods! You are right, though, we were tougher then. I don't remember the cold bothering me so much and I know my siblings and I spent HOURS outside in the snow. Now I watch my nephews brave the cold - even subzero windchills - with smiles on their faces.

This winter hasn't been as bad as last year but dang it's been cold this week and I am just SO OVER IT. So I am grumbling with you, but trying to keep it to myself as much as I can because I'm always afraid someone is going to say, "well at least you aren't in Charlotte"... (because that does happen often whenever I say something about Minnesota that isn't positive). I am glad I'm not in Charlotte but sometimes I want to complain about something without having that thrown back in my face! All that said, here's hoping spring arrives soon!!

Relyn Lawson said...

Those photos are precious. Just looking at those little faces made me smile. We have 40 degrees today. First time for outside recess in ages. YES!

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Hi Jeanie! My wife Beateis a blogging friend of yours so I wanted to pop in and become a follower :) I'm one of those weirdos who loves winter myself.

Shelia said...

As a little girl I lived in Alabama and we had a few snows and you're so right - we had a freedom of play. No responsibilities just be a kid. What darling pictures you've shared. Is that you? We're still covered up in snow and I'm dreaming of 'green'! ;)
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Bella Rum said...

I know. I know. Even down here it's 10 or 12 in the morning and we had snow again last night. You are adorable in those pics. You look a little like me in the first two. We're both redheads. Spring is out there somewhere.... waiting.

littleRamstudio said...

Lovely nostalgic photographs.
Heather :)

Victoria Zigler said...

I don't think kids are tougher. I think kids get so involved in the games they're playing in the snow that they don't notice the cold so much. Also, they haven't lived through as many cold Winters - and tend to live for the moment anyway - so they're able to just enjoy themselves instead of focussing on memories of how cold it was last year. Not to mention the fact kids don't tense so much when they fall, so they don't get as hurt. Oh, and they also don't know enough about how bills work to worry about the extra heating costs.

I'm one of those who gets so excited about snow that I don't notice the cold. Not that we get much of it, unfortunately.

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