The Snow Days of Years Ago
Why snowy nights are good business for Catonsville liquor stores.
Oh the icy breath of Mother Nature, when blown upon this town, leave a wondrous beauty behind. Trees groaning under their snowy loads, homes and land cloaked in capes of blinding white, and roads marked only by the occasional print left from foot or paw.
When faced with such proof of nature’s magnificence, what can one do?
In the great tradition of our forefathers (or at least four of my friends’ fathers), many of us buy a few six packs and some chips and hunker down with the neighbors.
At least, that’s what I usually do. After this year’s first big snow, I found myself at my neighbor’s house, surrounded by friends and family, reminiscing about the storms of yesteryear.
The kids, gaging this was going to be one of those nights when adults only pretend to parent, formed their own government and began running around the house at will, going outside in their socks, terrorizing the cat and enjoying a healthy self serve dinner of apple sauce and chips.
Talk among the adults eventually turned to the great sleigh riding adventures of our youth, when Flexible Flyers--the rusty runners greased with candle wax-- and trash can lids were the only real sledding options available. When snow boots required plastic bag inserts.
As the pile of empty beer cans and wine bottles grew, so did the size of the monster hills we careened down as children and teenagers.
The big hill at CCBC grew to meet Mount Everest, and the hills behind Catonsville High School became as treacherous as the Alps.
My friend Carolyn remembered that snowplows often didn’t make it to the neighborhood streets for days, so she and her friends would sled straight down the middle of the road.
Another friend, Mary Kay, recalled the many snowy days she spent sleigh riding down the hills surrounding St. Charles Monastery, present day location of Charlestown Retirement Community.
I could only imagine my friend as a kid, flying down the hill, soaked to the bone in snow clothes that not only did not deflect, but actually absorbed, moisture; cat eye glasses glued to her nose, and a giant grin plastered on her slightly snotty face.
In the words of the immortal Irene Cara, what a feeling.
One memory in particular stands out in Mary Kay’s mind.
“My dad had taken all five of us kids sledding, and was about to take a run by himself down the hill. As the sled began to move, all five of us suddenly decided it would be a great idea to pile on top of him. Down we went, having a great time, until we got to the bottom and hit a rut. We kids all flew off the sled, hysterically laughing. My dad probably would have been laughing too, but unfortunately he had broken a few ribs on the way down!”
Someone observed how great it is to be a kid, with nothing on the agenda but fun for hours at a time. The party grew quiet after that as we all sat back and contemplated the complexities of adulthood.
Of course, it didn’t register with anyone that we had been sitting in the same chairs for over two hours, shoveling chips and beer down our throats, and completely neglecting the children.
Our silence was finally broken by the cat, stalking through the room with one toenail painted red and a bright blue stripe running the length of his nose.