Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Serenity

My cousin Jim sent the family an email lamenting the amount of snow his neck of the woods has gotten this year (around 5 feet). My mom responded to him with a wonderful tale from her and Jim's dad's (Mom's brother) childhood. Written memories like this are such treasures:

Dear Jim,
I surmise that you are fed up, correct? This too will melt and then you will just have mud. I enjoyed your take on Robert Frost's poem.
When we, Aunt Helen, your Dad and I were young, (indulge me, old folks talk a lot about olden days) we had a snow and ice storm of epic proportions [they grew up in Jamestown, MO]. First came the snow and high winds that made huge snow drifts. That was followed by an ice storm that coated everything. The trees were bending and breaking, the few electric and phone lines were down. Electricity was provided by a local plant that served just Jamestown. On a normal day we had electricity from 6am until morning light and from sundown until 10pm.but we had kerosene lamps. So you see, we really weren't in the dark.
School was canceled and we had the most incredible winter vacation. After the chores; bringing in wood and coal, milking the cow, chipping ice to get to the cellar for stored canned goods, root vegetables, saurkraut, sausage and homemade wine, we were free to play. Everything stopped for the winter games.
Everyone that had skates, both old and young, were skating over the fence rows, the fields, all of our world was snow with a heavy coating of ice. Sledding was fast and, we thought, very dangerous. The hill we used became so slick we had to hack steps close to the downhill slide to be able to get back to the top.
Whenever we had a snowstorm, the tradition at our house was, Mother made a pot of chili, or "rig tum ditty" then we would set up a card table in the living room and have dinner by our beautiful "circulator". That was a coal burning stove with pretty windows to view the fire. It was a bit of a status symbol.
After that Mother would read the beginning parts of John Greenleaf Whittier's "Snowbound". Then, bedtime with the evening serenade by Dad [my grandfather was a wonderful jazz pianist].

Really good hard times.

Love, and come for another visit -
Aunt Mary

Here is a bit from that wonderful poem.
So all night long the storm roared on:
The morning broke without a sun;
In tiny spherule traced with lines Of Nature's geometric signs,
And, when the second morning shone,
We looked upon a world unknown,
On nothing we could call our own.
Around the glistening wonder bent
The blue walls of the firmament,
No cloud above, no earth below,
A universe of sky and snow!
The old familiar sights of ours
Took marvelous shapes; strange domes and towers
Rose up where sty or corn-crib stood,
Or garden-wall, or belt of wood;
A smooth white mound the brush-pile showed,
A fenceless drift what once was road;
The bridle-post an old man sat
With loose-flung coat and high cocked hat;
The well-curb had a Chinese roof;
And even the long sweep, high aloof,
In its slant splendor, seemed to tell
Of Pisa's leaning miracle."


expect nostalgia at times


  1. I think your blog got cut off midstory!

  2. Blogger is being mischievious .. its all back now

  3. What a great post! And what fun memories! Love the letter and Whittier's poem! Hope you have a great day!


  4. Now THAT'S some snow! I guess one should not lament a mere five feet!

  5. Wow. Just wow. What a wonderful way to grow up...

  6. That story is priceless, a very entertaining read. I could almost feel the heat from that woodstove and see the flickers through its window.

    Rig tum ditty is my new favorite phrase, it will be used to many things, not just chili.

  7. "to DESCRIBE many things, not just chili."

  8. What a beautiful letter. It took me back to the days long ago as a young military wife I received letters from my favorite aunt with stories of growing up with my father. I treasure the memory of her words.

  9. I actually remember a circulator!!! Great story Annie;) And thanks MaryBum!

  10. Thank you so much for sharing that priceless story with us... I can never get enough of the stories of days gone by.

  11. wish i was there with them sounds a bit like heaven!

  12. I love memories such as these. As I read the letter I thought about how easy we have it today - yet we whine and gripe. We lost our power during this past weekend - and had so much fun playing scrabble in front of the fire, reading by candlelight...and then the lights came back on and the hustle bustle of life returned. Great post!

  13. I love nostalgia. I've skated on my parents' lawn to get to and from my car that wouldn't make it up the driveway, but OVER the fences... WOW!


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