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Towering mounds of snow revive childhood memories


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The snows of your childhood are always better than the snows of your adulthood. For one thing, the snows of your childhood were much deeper. This is because you were lower to the ground as a child — but why let facts leech drama from a good story?

The only things nobody remembers fondly from the snows of their childhood are the snowballs. There were always a few wiseacres with their eyes set on major league pitcher’s mounds. These boys kept their arms in shape over the winter by hurling snowballs. Five, 10, hundreds, sometimes thousands at a time were launched from snow igloos they had crafted with their bare hands.

These boys were so skilled they could pick off a fellow 12-year-old at 100 yards. They sent other kids diving for cover and more than a few running home bawling with tears frozen to their frostbitten cheeks.

The snowfall of your youth might always have been soft, but the snowballs were always hard.

I have always loved snow. Adults like me are shunned by grocery store clerks, strangers making weather chitchat and every snowbird older than 40 with a condo in Florida or Arizona.

Why wouldn’t I love the snow? I spent the first part of my childhood growing up in Nebraska. Every other picture of me in the family album is against a snowbank twice my height. I was short as a child. Family, friends, random passers-by liked to take my picture against towering mounds of snow.

Somewhere right now there are people looking at old photographs of me in a red snowsuit against some snowbank asking, “Who is that?”

“I don’t know,” someone

answers. “But look how deep that snow was. Clear over that kid’s head. Sure doesn’t snow like it used to.”

My first newspaper job out of college was in Fargo, N.D. They do not have snow emergencies in North Dakota. They do not have snow days. They look forward to relentless snow and frigid cold by anticipating a mention on the Weather Channel.

I like snow even more as an adult than I did as a kid. Today, I have insulated snow pants guaranteed to protect me from frostbite at 5 below zero. My coat is made of some high-tech material that actually makes me hot.

My boots aren’t so great, but at least they have zippers and not some elastic loop you have to stretch over a button with frozen fingers.

This year, nearly a foot of snow blanketed the Midwest the day after Christmas. And then another 4 inches came a week after that. One of our 2-year-old granddaughters and I were outside in the snow yesterday. The kid loved it — head first, on her back or pulling a sled with nobody in it.

She is on the short side, so naturally I had her pose for a picture in front of a huge drift. When she is grown and tells her own children that snowfalls were deeper when she was a child, she’ll have the picture to prove it.

Lori Borgman is an Indianapolis columnist.

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