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Snow Days Have Good History In My Family

Even before they became teachers, in the years when they farmed full-time, Mother and Dad always took snow days off with Handsome Younger Brother and me. We didn't get a lot of their primary attention normally, given their pressing work agenda. As a result, like many people, I remember snow days as some of the happiest of childhood. Sledding, board games, reading, lots of special foods -- snow cream, hot chocolate, popcorn balls, (sorghum) molasses taffy, parched corn or other specialties Dad cooked in the edge of the fireplace: roast chestnuts or potatoes or eggs.

Snow on Autumn Joy sedum, a gift from Mother and Dad, thriving in and beautifying the Campsie garden decades later.

Snow on Autumn Joy sedum, a gift from Mother and Dad, thriving in and beautifying the Campsie garden decades later.

Snow days were when Dad began making cornstalk creatures, special little animals for us to play with. He also carved and made stick horses.

Late in his life he told me that his father and other men living nearby when he was young typically made these little animals on snowy indoor days. They spent the days sitting near the hearth, and while sitting, they kept their hands busy either carving cedar blocks or creating cornstalk creatures. A tradition of some sort. Long after my childhood, Dad innovated on that tradition to branch out beyond snow days and to more elaborate themes and creatures, including nativity scenes and a scale replica of the stagecoach that once ran from Monticello to Burnside.

Even bird feeding was special on snow days because Dad and Mother gave extra feed to the birds, attracting high numbers. In addition to juncos, chickadees, nuthatches, sparrows, cardinals, titmice and blue jays, the bird feeders also brought in forest birds that usually did not come to the feeders. I might be wrong, but I'm thinking we saw normally shy flickers, woodpeckers, towhees, and brown thrashers at the feeders when snow was heavy. The cardinals were favorites, of course, and we loved having as many of them as possible.

I thought after the bitter snowy winter of 2014 I might never like snow again, but it is working its way back into my good graces. This one is a great beauty.


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