A Winter's Walk
I walked the snowy streets quite late today
On my route were signs of winter’s grip
My breath could be seen as soft white clouds
Ice crystals suspended in a floating display
Snow drifts were all around at every turn
Each footstep produced snow’s telling crunch
Reminding me the pleasure in a winter’s walk
Hopeful to remain vertical and off my butt
Robert Bruce Adams
WHAT ALWAYS IMPRESSED ME was my parents’ ability to pass on the joy they found in winter’s outdoor activities. As children, we learned to embrace winter and never did we follow my parents kicking and screaming as I have seen in other families over the years. My poem tells of that desire to step outside facing winter’s frigid grip. Even if just to walk.
I can assure you my boyhood experiences in Michigan had wrapped in them many cold and snowy days that I vividly remember to this day. My siblings and I participated in outdoor activities which included sledding, skiing and skating.
And after a night’s snowfall we often built a snowman in our backyard. We would roll and stack the large snowballs and then adorn our snowman with carrots, prunes, and apricots finishing with a colorful knitted hat on his head. I certainly saw better specimens in the neighborhood. Even with that fact, it was always fun to make our very own snowman.
Each winter our family made a large skating rink in the lower level of our expansive backyard. Under my dad’s watchful eyes we tended to frozen pipes, stiff hoses, and clogged sprayer nozzles during all hours of the day and night. I can still see his red hat with the floppy ear flaps, realizing that I inherited similar tastes in my own outerwear. I remember snow drifts and snowy days with the greatest of pleasure. All these backdrops surrounded the creation of our amazing skating rink. I now realize that building it served to bond us as a family. It had much the same effect as if conversing at the dinner table or congregating in our family room on Sunday's in front of the fire to watch TV.
Never did I look at the ice rink as work. Half our waking hours went into its creation and maintenance, the other half devoted to our daily skating. It all led to a nice connection between work and pleasure, almost as if there was a master plan, or deep lesson, to be found in all our preparations. Each night’s undertakings ended in creating the smoothest ice. With the help of a single flood light perched high in the large maple tree in the middle of the rink, we would step back and observe with pride the outcome of our efforts.
After the water froze it sparkled, a reflection from the flood light announcing near perfection. Our efforts also produced frosty white eyebrows and frozen eyelashes formed from the hose’s constant mist. Once inside the house we would hurriedly strip off our frozen clothes and compare our wet faces in Mom’s bathroom mirror.
I am reminded today that I have migrated two hundred miles further north, even closer to the Arctic Circle. As a senior citizen, I feel my aching joints a little more than I would like. I continue to embrace the outdoors through walks and cross-country skiing, occasionally even putting on my wooden L.L. Bean snow shoes. I reflect with amazement thanking my parents for helping in my
appreciation of cold weather that still entices me to be out-of-doors.
If I can locate a pair of used skates, I’ll try my village’s freshly made ice rink before it is just too darn late.