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March 22, 2014

Looking Back: Snowy winter wonderland could be fun or a pain

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The Daily Star

---- — Snow, snow, go away … come again another day? Please, perhaps next year? But there is always the positive side to things — or so it seems. 

Even though many might view snow as an obstacle, countless others actually delight in the many opportunities that our winter wonderland brings. Special activities of skiing, snowboarding and all the other events calling for athletic expertise is often planned and enjoyed. In fact, believe it or not, even some of our neighbors get so carried away to actually snowmobile, zipping along, on a dry pavement after the plows have done their job. (So be it for the over-enthusiast!) 

But the wintertime activity I always enjoyed were the snow sculpture contests.

Remembering “back when”: It was the college weekend of special activities at Colgate Univeristy.

Not too far away from here, but at that time I was attending college near Boston. So  it was the bus/rapid transit to the railroad station and many hours on the train. It was nice that the young men always met us invited gals at the station to ferry us to the rooms we girls would share. (No unisex housing back then).

Evening time came, a dance with all the trimmings, and then we drove past all the fraternity houses on the main drag to view the guy’s hard work and creativity for the yearly snow sculpture contest. Bright lights lit each front yard to show the piles of snow, beautifully fashioned into a creative theme. Sorry … it was so many years ago that I can’t even recall exactly what the sculptures were of … all but ONE.  

The Alpha Tau Omega fraternity boys were very clever, or perhaps just lazy? A huge sign on the front lawn read: “No Snow for ATO” and they had actually shoveled every bit of snow off the entire front lawn — all was bare! What ingenuity, or should I say “cop-out”?

Years later, in adult life and having to make a living, things are different when it comes to snowy weather. The job had to be done (no fun and games now) and so there we were traveling on one of the very rural ridge roads in Delaware County. There was snow piled high from the overtime night crews, and the wind had picked up to spread high drifts across in front of us.

“I never get stuck” was my husband’s emphatic boost as he maneuvered our little van through what appeared to be a pass-through drift. Not so. Oops, we were sucked into the wintry mass and it was piled high above my door. We stopped — marooned  — and the doors were stuck shut too.

My side of the van was buried, but fortunately the driver’s side window was exposed so we could wiggle through it as we climbed out, sinking waist-high in snow — and this we did. 

There weren’t any homes close by. It was a very deserted, unpaved road except for a barn roof and silo that appeared in the distance. We hiked and were happy to find the farmer in his barn with a tractor close by. He acknowledged our plight and was happy to come to our rescue. Yes, a “friend in need is certainly a friend indeed” as the old saying goes.

Why do I remember all this so clearly? Have you ever sat on a frigid metal bucket loader as the tractor scooted down the bumpy rutted road, with freezing wind whipping your face and your precious derrière never to be the same? Yes, you would remember, and I still do —  close to 40 years ago. 

As said: “Time and unforeseen occurrence befall us all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11, to be exact, and in this case, hopefully, never to be repeated.)

Elaine W. Kniskern is a 81-year-old resident of Schenevus and a grandmother of five. She can reached at elaine-kniskern@stny.rr.com. ‘Senior Scene’ columns can be found at www. thedailystar.com/seniorscene.