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Winter memories

Published February 27. 2010 09:00AM

I love winter.

Well ok, let me define that a little more.

I love the winter memories I have of growing up in the Midwest.

The first seasonal South Dakota snowfall could happen as early at Halloween.

My homemade Halloween costumes were usually larger than need be just in case I had to wear a parka underneath.

It would be unlikely that this snow would stick around for long but it was always a reminder that lots more would soon be on the way.

Thanksgiving was always cold and by December the farm dams and ponds were already frozen over.

It was a weekly ritual to visit my grandparents each Sunday afternoon throughout the year and winter was no exception.

We grandkids loved to play outside. As long as the sun was shining, we were outside.

Mind you, the temps were probably in the low 20s with a cold north wind blowing.

We would bundle up like Eskimos, get our sleds, and take off down to the small lake situated on the west side of my grandparents' farm.

We would get a running start on the small snow-covered hill adjacent to the pond, run, do a belly flop, land on the sled and when the sled hit the snow-covered frozen surface we would fly right across the ice like nobody's business.

Of course, this was without helmets or protective pads of any type.

And I must say, that gear would have come in quite handy on numerous occasions.

We would spend hours on that lake until one of our parents would walk down and tell us to come in the house.

Our cheeks were bright red and we couldn't even feel our fingers or toes but man, did we have fun.

I made countless forts and snowmen.

It seemed there were always a pair of wet woolen gloves and hat on the old heater.

Boy, did they smell if you didn't get them off the heat as soon as they were dry!

Whenever we drove the three miles to my grandparents, my dad would always take the pickup.

I could never quite figure out why our family car was used only to drive into town.

The Ford pickup was ok but it didn't have a very good heater for the winter.

But as a child, even this was fun. My mom and I would bundle up together under a couple of old quilts and think nothing of it.

Do people even drive cars without heaters today?

As long as the sun was shining we would have the option to spend our school recess time outdoors.

My favorite winter game was Fox and Geese, a sort of winter game of tag.

We would make a large circle in the snow by walking single file behind the leader to tramp down the snow. The deeper the snow the better.

Then the big circle would be divided into six sections with the middle being the hen house or the safe zone.

One of us would be chosen as the fox and all the rest were the geese. The geese would gather in the middle and the fox would stand somewhere within a section of the circle.

The fox would then yell "Fox and Geese" and all of us kids had to run out of the middle and try not to be caught by the fox.

You had to stay in the tracks of the circle or you were out.

Once tagged by the fox, you went to stand in the hen house. The very last person caught would be the fox for the next game.

We never tired of this game and played it all winter long.

More fond memories of my childhood winters included fudge and homemade ice cream.

Each time a howling blizzard would hit, Mom would make a big batch of thick, smooth chocolate fudge and my dad would make homemade vanilla ice cream with real cream from our dairy cows.

This is a tradition I still uphold. If it's snowing, it's "fudge" time in the Tobia household.

I am not a winter person today, but I sure do love remembering the good old days when I was.

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