Gary Lindstrom: Snow through the eyes of a child
February 3, 2008
At a very young age I was fascinated with snow. I remember waiting in anticipation when snow was forecast. Part of it might have been the potential of having school cancelled but part of it was the beautiful mystery of falling snow.
I lived in Europe and New York City for much of the time between 1960 and 1970. I remember being told then that snow was a godsend as it covered up all of the dirt and trash on the streets. It was as if someone had decided to whitewash everything for a few hours or a couple of days.
They say that the reason we believe the snow was a lot deeper when we were children is because we were shorter. The snow was not any deeper then. We were all vertically challenged as children. Diminutive. Short. As in midgets or in rug rats.
This winter I am beginning to change my mind about the amount of snow I experienced in my youth growing up in Iowa. I have about 6 feet of snow on the level in my yard near Breckenridge right now and it keeps getting deeper.
I remember walking on the snow to the top of the hen house at the farm in Iowa to a height of about 20 feet. The snow had drifted up against the building and provided a snow bridge to the top.
Even when there was a late corn harvest, we could still walk the fields to pick up ears of corn without worrying about the snow that had already fallen. It just never landed in the open areas. It screamed across the plains until it hit a building and then rested there until March.
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I remember seeing comic ski posters for “Ski Iowa” with a farmer in bib overalls standing on the roof of his machine shed trying to ski off the snow bank on the side. I am sure they did not have to haul any snow in for the photo.
I was about 10 when I got my first paper route. I seem to remember having about forty customers who lived all over my home town. Most of the time it was not a problem to deliver the papers after school. Of course that was when it did not snow.
I remember leaving school one day to go get my papers and there was a light dusting of snow. By the time I finished there was about 2 feet on the ground and I could no longer ride my bike. I still remember that night pushing my bike with my heavy paper bag through deep snow to make my deliveries. I finally made it home and my mother put me in the tub to warm me up. That was about 55 years ago so you can see that it made a lasting impression.
I think that one thing that made the snow in Iowa deeper was the wind. I remember driving from home in Rockwell City to Fort Dodge on bare, dry pavement for many miles. Then, all of a sudden, a huge monolith of snow about 20- or 30-feet high would appear on the horizon totally blocking the road. A huge snowdrift caused by snow blowing from the fallow winter fields over the highway building higher and higher as the day went on.
The solution to this dilemma was always easy. You just went back to the last highway crossing at the section line and drove on the gravel road to the other side of the drift.
The Iowa Highway Department even tried to figure out where the drifts would occur and would install snow fence. It always seemed be put in the wrong place. Or maybe they placed it in the right place for last year’s snow but the wrong place this year. Something about timing.
They say that everything is relative. Short children are overwhelmed by small amounts of snow. If I am being overwhelmed am I getting shorter? I hope not.