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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014

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Readers Blog: Memories of niceness and other life

Winter and the memory of niceness (Spring Snow)

With each passing winter I grow increasingly tired of the cold.  It has begun to get into my bones, chilling without release and so although we have officially made exit of this winter season there was something about our Spring winter storm surprise, yes I said it right, a Spring Winter Storm, that might just have been enough to evoke what the earlier winter season did not.  And that is...well, a true love for winter, or at least the memory of it or what it represents.  I know, I know, I'm crazy and a flip flopper but honestly this storm brought out a little of what I had forgotten while I was sinking into the depths of loneliness and sullenness while burying myself in a pile of self-doubt and criticism that often comes with the cabin fever produced by 5 frozen months.  At the time it seemed easiest to blame it on the white stuff piled outside of my driveway, and in doing so I realized I had forgotten what joy that season had brought in the past.  And so it was that from the comfort of my living room, clasped in a light blanket, I watched the snow fall on my green grass in April and I was once again brought back to the memory of niceness that winter could provide. 

The memories of niceness may be a phrase I made up but its meaning is not.  You know this meaning - it's the smell, sound, taste, sight or feeling that brings you back to another moment in time - a time of laughter, of joy and of niceness - and while in that deep thought you find yourself smiling, reliving the past. 

I quote my favorite line from a Sun Kil Moon song <u>Have You Forgotten</u> -

"That's when friends were nice and to think of them just makes you feel nice"

This storm did that to me.  It brought me back to my youth when winter was a magical time.  When the smell of the winter was best summed up by my father's winter jacket.  It was a strange mix of gasoline, small engine exhaust and the crisp cold air on the damp outer cotton lining.  The aroma would greet me when he came in from a late night snowplowing session.  The jacket has since been retired to a rack in the basement.  However, occasionally when the truly cold weather comes a calling, my brother or I will don it, and for a moment I feel connected to my father again.

My brothers and I would sled the hill behind our house that led down to the frozen creek.  Brooms were makeshift hockey sticks and a large ice chunk was the puck as we would play for hours up and down the creek before exploring through the frozen landscape of the tunnel bridge.  Afterwards we would lie on the snow and look up at the stars that seemed to shine brighter against the white hill and the illusion made the foreign planets seem closer.    

The ruffled sound of tires over unplowed snow brings me to my childhood bedroom.  Bedtime consisted of me lying on the floor with my face curled on my pillow that was tight against the heat vent and I would wait excitedly for the warmness to sting my cheeks.  The room would hold an orange tint from the glow of the city street lamps that would sneak through the vinyl shades on my windows that were lined with white Christmas lights sometimes lit, sometimes not.  I would be hypnotized to sleep by the distant scrapes of shovels and the occasional county plow and then finally the 'tick...tick...hmmmm' of the furnace starting and my dreams were warm and full and nice.

Winter is cold and harsh.  It always lasts longer than anticipated and in doing so it will do it's best to break you.  But in this day, this April snow shower it is a time capsule for me and I hope, for those around me as well.  I can't help but feel sorry for those in the south that do not have these moments to take them back to the magic of a snowy Christmas, a damp but warm jacket, a slow drive over snow packed streets of my hometown and the smell of fresh spruce as it thaws in the living room with Roger Whittaker's Christmas tape singing in the background.  The lines are as follows:

"All that I want is to be here beside you
All that I need is right here in my arms
All that I want is to know that you love me
And this will be my finest Christmas time"

This is my memory of niceness for winter and its smell and sound is wonderful.

 

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