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OPINION: Snowed in, if only in memory

Watching snow pile up on my patio the other evening, I recalled a creased, faded black-and-white photograph that showed a plowed country road with snow piled seven or eight feet high on both shoulders.

Watching snow pile up on my patio the other evening, I recalled a creased, faded black-and-white photograph that showed a plowed country road with snow piled seven or eight feet high on both shoulders.

The storm earlier this week left a modest covering of snow on my patio. Still, the first significant snowfall of the season should be noted, if only to compare it to the good old days when we really got socked.

We did get socked in those days, too. My mom’s photo is evidence of that. From the looks of it, the road might have been the one west of our mailbox a mile north of the farm. A vehicle - not an all-wheel-drive SUV or anything like that, just a four-door sedan - is parked smack in the middle of the cleared road. In my mind, I see a couple of people - kids, most likely - standing atop the piled snow high above the roof of the sedan.

I have to be honest with you. I’m not sure those kids are really in the photograph. That’s how I see it today, from a distance of 60 or 65 years. I’d like to think I’m one of the kids foolhardy enough to have scaled that mountain of snow. More likely, if there were kids, one of them was my big brother. He’d have been the first one out of the car and up the side of the snow bank. He liked to be on the move in any situation, and he particularly liked to scale mountains, whether banks of snow on the farm, rock faces near our vacation cabin or steep, pine-scattered side hills next to a Black Hills highway.

I’d have tended to hang back and watch him until I was sure that 1) the mountain actually could be climbed and 2) a pack of hungry wolves or a misguided polar bear wasn’t just the other side of the peak. I could be a bit timid in my younger years. I always wanted to be just like my big brother, but foolhardy never was a word used to describe me.

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My memory of that black-and-white photograph is that the cleared roadway was only a bit wider than the sedan parked in the middle of the driving lane. In my adult years, when I think of that scene, I wonder what sort of machinery existed back then to throw the snow that high. I also wonder how two vehicles ever could have met and passed in that narrow canyon between the steep walls of banked snow.

About the time of that photograph, my dad bought a camera that produced home movies. These days, every person with a smartphone can take a video and view it immediately. Back then, a movie camera was a very big deal. My dad would load the film, crank a spring and start filming. He filmed and filmed and filmed, filling small metal reels with images of the family and its vacations. He’d send the results away to be developed, and weeks later, we’d view the movie.

He bought a device that allowed him to splice those small reels together to make a giant reel. Some years ago, we turned some of those home movies into video cassettes. I have copies in a box somewhere. If I could find those copies, I could relive winter on the farm, maybe even find moving pictures showing that plowed road.

I know I could find movies of my siblings and me sledding on drifted snow, acting as if a three-foot drift was actually the toughest ski run at Terry Peak. Once in a great while, when the snow really fell and the wind really blew, the drifts would pile deep enough for us to sled down the roof of the machine shed and into the tree belt. Most times, though, we slid slowly down those three-foot drifts and used our imagination.

I’m not always sure whether my memories of winter on the farm are my own or the product of viewing those home movies too many times. Next time we get snowed in, I’ll see if I can dig out those cassettes and find out.

Related Topics: TERRY WOSTERTERRY WOSTER
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