Time to go sledding!  It finally snowed here! Time to go sledding.  Growing up we had a lot more snow than we have here in Kentucky.  I remember playing on snow mobiles, riding on the river, going on trips through the woods from house to house.  Friends would show up on snow mobiles and we would hop on ours and join the caravan.

My dad would also take the tractor and plow our driveway, making a huge snow pile for us in the yard.  My brother and I would spend hours making snow tunnels through the piles. The tunnels would be a few feet long and perfect for sliding down over and over.  We would make igloos out in the yard and carry out our supplies to hang out in the yard, then spend the day playing outside.

Snow would drift against all the fence rows and  pile up to be several feet high.  I remember riding snow mobiles across the tops, above the fields – and that one time we hit the gap in the snow.  My mother was driving and I was riding and off we went into the air. Nothing…  I still keep saying we were lucky to have survived childhood.

We would ride up hills that I would now swear were at a 90 degree angle to the ground but surely weren’t completely 90 degrees, riding across rivers, with my dad’s instructions to not stop since it wasn’t frozen solid (go fast!), and of course we each had our own snow mobiles.  My father’s snow mobile was an el Tigre that had been modified to race. it was rare for my parents to let us ride it…. Mine was an arctic cat and so pretty!  I loved it, and I had the full snow suit with helmet, pants, snow boots, you name it.  It was our regular outfits for the winter and when not on us you put it on the earth stove to dry.

Of course one of the most important things to remember was to pee first. If you didn’t you had to hold it for a long time.   We would go out and ride for hours.  I kind of remember sleds being pulled behind snow mobiles, but it was more common years earlier to pull the sleds behind the mower.

Snow in the country also meant power outages, so we would use the wood stoves, wood furnaces, fireplaces, and kerosene lamps.   Toilets had to be flushed with whatever water was available and there was no way to wash up…. Well’s don’t work without power.  But I don’t remember it being that bad, though I do remember times when the power went out for a week or more at a time.

While we were playing outside, my dad would either join us or work around the farm moving snow with tractors.  Sometimes dad would end up having to tow people out of the ditch.  Dad was the go to person for anyone in the area being stuck in a ditch… surprisingly this meant we had a liquor closet completely stocked (although I don’t remember my dad drinking much).  A lot of the that liquor is still in the closet.  Dad would take his tractor and drive to wherever he was needed and pull the car, truck or whatever out of the ditch.

I still love the thought of sitting in the corner of the kitchen by the earth stove during the winter, reading a book!  I’m sure I still have a scar on my arm where I touched the stove and got a burn once too often, but I loved that corner of the kitchen.  I’ve tried sitting on the floor in front of our fireplace with a book in our house, but it just doesn’t have that cozy feel of the corner behind the wood stove.

Snow Days

Kentucky is having a lot of snow right now.   It made me a little nervous to venture out, knowing I don’t have my dad to come rescue me if I venture into a snow drift!  Growing up, dad was the person everyone called to pull them out of the snow drifts as they went off the road.  He would get into his khaki work coveralls and work boots and get onto his tractor and head down the road to rescue them.

In Illinois the snow would blow across the roads and pile up in huge snow piles on the side of the road, and even create big snow drifts across the road.  My parents always kept snow mobiles for us to ride.  We usually had Snow Cats, but my dad’s was an El Tigre that had been a racing snow mobile.  It could really fly across the snow.  My dad would make sure each year that the river had really frozen solid and then we would take long trips down the river also.  I also remember a few wrecks, but most memories were of us bundled up in snow suits with every exposed part of our body covered and helmuts mashed down over our heads so that we could go ride.  My brother and I would go inside long enough to warm up and then head right back out again.

My dad would also take his tractor and plow the driveways and roads around us. Not so much so that the vehicles could get anywhere, but so that we would have a big pile of snow to play in.  My brother and I would then make a snow fort in the snow piles, complete with tunnels to slide through.  They would end up solid enough the snow mobiles could zoom over them. Usually that would be a lot of fun, but I do remember the accident involving Brian, a snow mobile, and a swing set….  The piles were always so high you couldn’t see anything on the other side.

Our power would then go out for extended periods at a time.  My parents finally hooked up a wood burning furnace that was hooked into all the vent work for the house.  The house also had a fireplace in the living room and a wood burning stove in the kitchen.  My mother would usually have something on the wood burning stove – deer jerky drying, maple syrup cooking down to remove the water, or some other unusual thing.  Every so often she would even have a flock of chicks under a heat lamp in the kitchen – but I don’t necessarily tie that memory to the snow.

During the big snow storms, friends and relatives would still drop by – just on snow mobiles.  They would pull into the drive, and we would run out all bundled up and hop on ours and join the caravan for the day.