I Know a Story
Western NY was winter wonderland By Marilynn Y. Miller, Special to the Sunday News
Western New York state, Buffalo, to be exact. Winds off Lake Erie hurling blizzards, whiteouts. My hometown.
For all the neighborhood kids and our dogs, as the flakes settled and finally ceased, an untouched playground was now at our command.
We poured out the doors of our houses, red steel and wood Flexible Flyer sleds in tow, heading for the nearest railroad viaduct, site of the solitary hill in our eastside community.
Darkness surrounded us by 5 o'clock, but the stars were bright, the streets deserted, and were filled with the buzzing energy of tireless bees. Dressed in our corduroys and long johns (no snowpants for us!), mittens and scarves, we dashed up the hill and came flying down on our sleds, sheets of corrugated cardboard or cookie sheets. It didn't matter what the vehicle, as long as it could go FAST!
Up and down the short but steep hill we trudged and then sped -- crashing, screaming, somersaulting and laughing -- often with 3 or more feet of snow at our disposal.
Two hours later, with cheeks like candied apples, dripping noses and sodden clothes, we headed the few blocks toward home. Our black rubber over-the-shoe snow boots, with zippers on the girls' and buckles on the boys', were stiff with the cold, frozen shut. The following day we would all have chapped ankles, cheeks and hands from the rogue snow that melted and drenched us.
Once home, we quickly removed our clothes and were given flannel PJs (no fleece then) that had been warmed on the gas space heater by Mom. There's no way to describe the feeling of a tired little body melting into the arms of that warmth.
Red fingers and noses were nestled around cups of hot chocolate (whole milk and chocolate syrup). And if we were really lucky, there were homemade soft pretzels, too, or a big bowl of buttered popcorn.
We could barely lift our arms to brush our teeth and shuffle the 10 steps to bed. We burrowed into the pillows and pulled the covers up to our noses, saw the moon through our ice-stenciled window, and plunged into a black velvet envelope of sleep.
Up the next morning, ready for the half-mile walk to school, we stopped at the viaduct to barrage each other with snowballs and snatch an icicle lollipop on the way. Shoveling awaited us that evening, but when that was done the heavy, wet whiteness was ready to sculpt into forts, snowmen or caves. Or we could climb the giant mountains created at our curbsides by the city plows. Beside us were schoolmates, chums, brothers and sisters -- and our manic dogs, rolling, tunneling and chomping with canine glee.
Inside us were the simple joy and excitement held by the heart of childhood, when a winter day lasted forever and an endless realm of magic and possibilities was there for the taking.
The writer lives in New Holland.
n"I Know a Story" submissions should not exceed 600 words. They may be sent to Jo-Ann Greene, Sunday News, P.O. Box 1328, Lancaster, PA 17608-1328, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.