Rubber Chicken Scratchings: Recent snowstorm provided a chance to reminisceThe recent snowstorm put my daughter and I in the holiday mood. And none too soon: We were starting to drift into the post-Halloween, pre-Christmas blahs.
By: Brian Matuszak, Budgeteer News
So my daughter, Kaylee, and I were heading up over the hill on Monday morning when we were suddenly transported out of a mud-brown, pre-wintery West Duluth land into the puffy-white, magical, winter wonderland of Hermantown. It was amazing!
I mean, you hear all the time about how Lake Superior can affect weather conditions — in fact, I can almost hear George Kessler now, chuckling about that “big ol’ pond making temperatures dip” as he strokes the scraggly cat that has attached itself to his lower face — but it doesn’t really register until you experience it for yourself.
It was like there was an invisible line along the railroad tracks near Oneota Cemetery: on this side, yucky brown grass, and on this side, Christmas.
It put both of us in the holiday mood. And none too soon: We were starting to drift into the post-Halloween, pre-Christmas blahs. (I don’t include Thanksgiving because retailers don’t bother anymore either. I figure if Target says there is no Thanksgiving, then who am I to argue?)
Seeing the road surrounded by pine trees that were a heavy mixture of white and green was a treat. Their branches were hanging low under the weight of that glorious fluffy white stuff. It reminded me of when I was a kid and we had the first snowfall.
We would bundle all up in our snowmobile suits, yank on our thick mittens and stocking caps, and trundle out to our backyard.
I grew up out in the beautiful and isolated country of Saginaw, up near Grand Lake and, when it snowed, there were a bazillion pine trees covered from top to bottom. One of my favorite activities was to start running toward a tree — well, as fast as one could run weighted down in a snowmobile suit and boots (it was more like a brisk waddle…) — and then launch myself into a lower bed of pine tree branches.
The snow would explode up in the air all around me as the soft branches caught me and then deposited me gently onto the hard ground. There would be a split second of nothing, and then the heavier snow that had been on the pine tree’s higher branches would come crashing down on top of me, burying me alive.
My young senses sprang to life as the icy snow burrowed down the back of my neck and into my mittens and boots. I could taste the crunchy white goodness and smell the intoxicating aroma of pine tree and wet snow — just driving to Hermantown that recent wintery-white morning brought all of it back to me.
My brother and sister and I would clamber to the top of the snow drifts that had piled up a mile into the sky. We would drag our mini-toboggans to the local “hill” (a small mound in our neighbor’s field) and slide for hours. When my brother and I tired of sliding, we’d make frozen snowballs and chuck them at each other — we were boys, after all — as my sister took a few more turns. Then we’d cap the day off by trundling back to the small country store my parents owned, peeling off our frozen, snow-encrusted hats and mittens and placing them on top of the big brown heater in the middle of the store, near the foosball table. As we chugged hot cocoa and took turns playing pinball, we would listen to the snow slowly melt off our clothes and hit the heater with small, whispered hisses.
I thought of all of that as I looked at the miles of snowy pine trees in Hermantown, and then it dawned on me: None of these trees had been jumped in yet. They were all waiting to catch the winter’s first youth and bury him in snow!
I told Kaylee that we should pull over and experience this immediately, because I wanted my daughter to have the kind of winter fun that I had as a kid. But as the vehicle slowed, she would have none of it.
“I have to get to school, Dad,” she said. And, of course, she was right.
But I didn’t have to get to school. On my way back down the hill, I glanced silently at a particularly large group of pine trees, their branches bobbing slightly in the breeze, weighted down with the winter’s first snow.
“Catch me?” I asked them.
“Every time,” they answered.
Brian Matuszak has been difficult and demanding since February 2008. He is the co-founder of Renegade Comedy Theatre and founder of Rubber Chicken Theater. He misses that old Grand Lake Store, but he visits it in his mind every chance he gets.