By Elaine Kniskern

Winter's snow is glistening like diamonds in the brilliant sunshine. Pristine fluffy flakes swirl gently in the cold, crisp breeze to cover tracks and keep all clean and white. A winter's paradise!

But something is missing. As we carefully, slowly drive down our country roads, all is quiet, too quiet and seemingly deserted.

Where are the snowmen with charcoal eyes and carrot noses? Where are the snow forts and igloos? Where are the children with snowballs whizzing through the air? Where is the yesterday that my brother and I used to delight in?

As I grow older, I recall how the youngsters, back when, would plow though the snow drifts with shovels raised high, just looking for jobs. A few extra dollars to add to their allowances was always appreciated. Where are these "helpers" today for us oldsters?

Hours upon hours of our young lives used to be spent just enjoying the outdoors. We often reminisce recalling all the fun times and wonder: Can they still be there just waiting for our youth to enjoy again?

As we grow older our lives change; some for the better and some not. But there is always the element of time. Time spent doing or not doing. Wasting our life that is so short when each individual can and should be finding their potential and using it to accomplish a worthwhile satisfying existence.

Remembering school and all the possibilities of learning various subjects, I often lament a waste of time _ time spent on too much "fun and games." I guess that's all part of growing up, but appreciation for these learning opportunities are seemingly wasted on the young.

If I could relive my education and know what I now know ... things would be, should or could be different.

My brother and I had fun in the snow while my older sister usually had her nose in a book. In high school, I opted for home economics as extra curriculum while Sis hit the intellectual subjects ... and more books.

I recall that even in grammar school, we had an opportunity to learn the basics of cooking and sewing. My peers, for the most part, thought this unnecessary and were very negative, but now, today, I can truthfully say as I look back that the time was well worth it. I commend the school system, as you will read.

Excelling as an over-achiever is one thing, but the practical side of life comes after schooling. I learned cooking, sewing and those practical things while Sis still had her nose in that book. Sure, algebra, trig and calculus have their place, but so does being balanced in the everyday, practical subjects that you use throughout a lifetime.

I can still remember when Mom got a phone call not too long after Sis had taken that all-important commitment of marriage: She asked, "How can I make gravy without lumps?" Making a simple roux was beyond her expertise.

So, all things considered, there is always the practical side of life to go along with academia when young. A balance is required, for as one of the wisest men said, "To the making of books there is no end, and much devotion (to them) is wearisome to the flesh." A proper perspective is certainly required.

Schooling _ or learning _ should and can continue throughout a lifetime. (Is there any person who "knows it all"?) Living is a learning process, coupled with the humility to acknowledge needed improvement. There are so many choices to make, and to know which is correct and best is a challenge.

In conclusion, I must commend my sister, for she does now excel in the culinary arts. She and her husband have both survived to a ripe age, heading into their 80s, while both of her girls are very successful in their missionary work and helping to sustain themselves as a seamstress and a couturier.

Elaine W. Kniskern is a 77-year-old resident of Schenevus and a grandmother of five. She can reached at ralphkniskern@stny.rr.com. "Senior Scene" columns can be found at

www.thedailystar.com/seniorscene

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