It used to be every winter, especially in January, we would have at least a snowstorm or two. We would usually whether it through somehow and to me, the adventure was exciting. Of course on the farm snow day was an exciting time since it changed everyday happenings just a little. Unlike 2018 when we would love a little of the white stuff and would celebrate any of the cold ambrosia, it is fun to remember.
The wind whistled through the upstairs windows as the snow outside covered the farmyard with a whipping white comforter of snow, thrashing around on the earth like a dog chasing a rabbit. I peered out of my little upstairs glass, I could hardly see anything, leave alone any of the farm animals that were usually present at this hour. I shivered as I quickly crawled out from under the warm covers, grabbed my clothes and set a country school record in running for the narrow stairway to the family kitchen, hoping it would be at least a little warm.
The fire crackled cheerfully in the pot-bellied stove in the middle of our big farm kitchen. If I got close enough to it, I could feel the red-hot heat penetrate into my frozen bones and it felt good… so good. I quickly put on my warm clothes and checked what chores needed to be done. Mom was already making breakfast on the kerosene stove.
I glanced at the water bucket and could see it was almost empty. Struggling into my old coat I grabbed the bucket and slipped down the walk to the big outdoor pump by the outside kitchen. It took a few heaves before the handle was limber enough to go up and down and bring up water. That job was finally done and I brought the sloshing water back into the warm kitchen, put the dipper back in, and took off my coat.
Mom was frying eggs and I was setting the table from the little portable cabinet in the corner of the kitchen when the telephone on the wall rang two times, a long and a short, which was the signal it was for us.
Mom took the receiver off the hook and said “hello” into the talking piece that protruded from the wooden box on the wall. I listened with baited breath to see what was happening. Getting a phone call was not too frequent to our farmhouse on the hill and it usually meant some news of some sort. Actually, it was good our phone was even working since it certainly was out a lot of the time.
“There’s no school today?” Mom asked. I couldn’t hear what else was said but felt a little sad. I enjoyed school and even the hard trek through the snow was an adventure. “Still,” I thought to myself, “it could be fun to stay home today!”
My father had gotten up very early in the morning, milked the cows, fed the pigs and then hiked a half mile to the highway where he had left the car the night before. Hopefully, the highway would be open so he could drive to work in Hutch.
Mom and I did the rest of the chores, filled the lamps and cook stove with kerosene, brought in more coal for the pot-bellied stove, as well as fed the chickens.
Later, my Dad came back in, feeling practically frozen. As he warmed up by the stove he told us of his adventure…the car wouldn’t start and besides even the highway didn’t look drivable. He would have to stay home from work today.
Mom was concerned we were almost out of groceries. “We need some flour before I can do any more baking and we are out of sugar!” Now, mom’s baking was something to be desired and we knew we couldn’t have that.
Dad told me to get bundled up and he and I would walk to Medora, a distance of about two miles in a roundabout way. They had a little store along with their filling station.
At first, I was excited about this great adventure but then the cold started to penetrate into even the warm coat I was wearing. I had a scarf tied around my face and could barely see dad and I tramped through the snow drifts.
When we reached the little filling station/grocery store located beside the 61 Highway, I felt like I was a big block of ice. Dad and I took a little time to warm up by their pot-bellied stove. After a while, our brains started to function again and we picked out the groceries we needed. At my suggestion, Dad even put in a package or chocolate Oreos ( a very special treat) with frosting in between as well as the needed items.
Walking home, stepping in snow drifts, was even harder, since we were now also carrying the groceries. It took every ounce of perseverance to make our way home. The fire burning brightly in our stove looked so inviting and I dropped into a chair. Mom had made hot chocolate and soon we felt human again.
Of course, the chores had to be done again before dark after which our little family enjoyed the hot cornbread mom had baked. We settled down around the stove for an evening at home. My parents kept the fire crackling in the coal stove and my sister and I enjoyed hearing the stories of their youth once again. The wind rose up again outside, blowing whirlwinds of white around our farmhouse on the hill. The upstairs windows moaned and groaned as the wind tried to get in the little cracks around the edges. I didn’t care, I felt snug and loved and almost warm as I thought about our snow day on the farm. Besides, I knew God would look after us.
By Doris Schroeder
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