Sunday, January 9, 2011

52 Weeks Personal Genealogy & History: Winter



Thanks to Amy Coffin of We Tree Genealogy members of the geneabloggers family will be embarking on another year of recording our personal family history. This week's challenge has to do with winter and offers the prompt:

What was winter like where and when you grew up? Describe not only the climate, but how the season influenced your activities, food choices, etc.


Being a life-long resident of the upper Midwest, winter is a season I literally have lived with my entire life. It is kizmet that the subject of my first blog post of 2011 is winter; winter was also the subject of a couple of Wordless Wednesday posts, including a photo of my grandfather during the early 1900s.

Long before the term global warming became part of our vocabulary, my childhood memories of winter is that the snow was deeper, the temperatures colder and winter seemed to last far longer than it does today. But then again, my winter memories may be a bit spacial challenged. In my minds eye, Christmas trees were at least 10 feet tall and the depth of the snow had to have been no less than six or seven feet deep. Photographs tell a different story.

While I have come to accept - and embrace - winter, I have age (!) as well as technology to thank for this being a peace with Old Man Winter. Memories of playing outside immediately bring to mind frozen fingers and toes - sometimes to the point of tears. The handmade mittens my Grandmother Bergeron made were no match for today's dry technology, wicking away persperation and keeping my fingers toasty warm.

Bulky snowsuits were a godsend back in the 50's and 60's and extended our time spent outside until enough snow and persperation increased your weight by at least five pounds!  Remember the scene of Randy being dressed by his mother in the holiday classic Christmas Story : "I can't put my arms down." That scene, repeated in my family kitchen is why I fondly remember my first pair of 'bib' snowpants, not to  mention the fact a decrease in the chance of snow escaping past the waistband of my snow pants.

Pulling on a pair of boots in the 1950's was a lesson in patience. As if it wasn't difficult enough getting your shoes inside the boots (the rubber reaching out and grabbing your shoe) or that at some point during your winter adventure, your sock would begin to creep down your foot, past your ankle and bunch up somewhere around the arch of your foot - getting your shoe back out of the boot when you are cold and wet was misearble. If you were lucky, your foot immediately came out of your shoe, leaving you (or Mom!) to work the shoe out of the boot at a later time.

All that winter brings with it - snow, cold, ice - was accepted as part of life. Our activities may have included more time spent inside than we did during the rest of the year but it brought with it enertainment we looked forward to and enjoyed: skating, skiing, sledding, building forts and having snowball fights. Catching snowflakes on your tongue, during the spring 'maple syrup run' my grandfather use to scoop snow into a bowl and drizzle maple sap or syrup for a wonderful treat.

I recall my grandfather saying that January was his least favorite month as this is the time of the year when temperatures in northern Wisconsin often are below zero for days at a time. I'm sure this is a sentiment today's dairy farmers and loggers still share. When we are into our third day of minus wind chill even I am dreaming of a sun, white sand beaches - and warmth!

There is beauty in a winter landscape when we choose to view our surrounds as a gift. When I think of my winter childhood memories I am reminded of the poem by Bill Morgan, Jr.:

Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.

With the exception of Bill Morgan's poem, all text and photograph is
copyright (c) Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski. 2011


6 comments:

Barbara Poole said...

Cindy, how could I not comment on your post about winter, with your lovely winter scene as a header and the great shot of your house (I loved the picture of it at Christmas). That being said, I hate winter (live in MA). Very nice article, and thank you.

Kristin said...

sounds so much like my childhood winters in detroit. hated those bunchy socks!

Carol said...

OK, you just reminded me of a bunch of childhood memories I had forgotten. I too am glad for newer advanced (LOL) clothing, no more wet gloves. Ohhh, those were the worst!

Cher' Shots said...

My childhood memories pretty much carbon copy yours! Oh to be young again!
'love & hugs from afar'

Family Historian said...

Cindy - what a great blog....I had forgotten about the shoes in the boots routine until you described in so perfectly - having grown up in Ontario winters were much like you described....really enjoyed reading your article and love your pictures as well

A rootdigger said...

I had forgotten too about the shoe and the socks. I did day care for awhile, and snow bunddling seemed endless. You learn quick enough to get them to the bathroom first. Not sure how that Kate with all those children could keep the patience.

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