Hodgepodge, March 8

Tales of winters past

The older generations have always told stories of winters of their younger days to their children and grandchildren.

You know — the ones that start out, “Back when I was a kid in the winter time …”

It was likely that I had heard tales about my grandparents coping with big storms, about their trips through the deep snow to the hen house to gather eggs, and the sleigh rides of their younger days.

I do know that my grandparents both grew up on farms in the days when horses and one’s legs were the main sources of transportation.

I grew up in Syracuse and I had no difficulty thinking about the snowy winters of my youth. Winters when the snow was often up too high to get the back door open; many winters when the usually wide street in front of our house was narrowed down to a path that the cars with their tire chains didn’t dare to travel on.

It seems there was no shortage of snowy excitement from my younger days — adventures which should have kept my own children amazed by the stories of their father’s winter time activities.

Oh, my generation and I — we had our moments, OK? — but there was one problem when it came to bragging to my children about the winter time adventures of my youth.

Only one BIG problem — my kids were growing up in Fulton’s winter weather and nothing I could say about growing up in Syracuse would impress them. I’m afraid that they would have been bored from the beginning.

In Fulton the snow- banks were higher, and the houses were literally buried in snow from October to April; sometimes traces still lingered in May. It took a lot to impress them when snow stories were being told.

 

Dad’s snow tunnel

Wait a minute – I had it. When asked about my own adventures in the snow, I would cleverly switch the scene back a few years.

“Did I ever tell you about the time Grandpa (my father) was a kid?  Well, this one day there was so much snow between his house and his friend’s house across the street that they had to dig a tunnel from one to the other – and I got some pictures somewhere to prove it.”  Wow!

Well, that seemed to do it. They were impressed, and I am still searching for that picture.

 

Take a walk

I have always tried to do some walking as often as I could, just for the sake of walking and some exercise.

For years, my wife and I enjoyed frequent neighborhood walks in decent weather. Now that I am home more during the day, I try to take regular neighborhood jaunts. I find that my walks are half as long and twice as tiring these days.

When I lived in Fulton, walking was a daily ritual. We had a couple of set patterns for our walks.

As it is a common routine in Fulton to “walk the bridges,” we did that at least half of the time.

On other occasions, since we lived on the east side, we would take the “east side trek” from our house near East Side Park, up to Nestles, and then follow a rectangular course until we were close to where we started, and return home.

(I don’t live in Fulton now, but if I did I wonder how I could manage to shorten the distance between those bridges.)

If you are a walker and follow the same route every day at approximately the same time, walking can become a social event as you will meet up with at least some of the same people every day.

If you have walked for recreation for several years you will discover that you have participated in a variety of styles — moving along briskly; slowing down so your walking partner could keep up; moving slow enough to enjoy the passing scenery, and finally, “plodding along” (and slowing your walking partner down).

In your early walking days, the toot of a horn from a passing vehicle probably was a greeting from an acquaintance; now, the same thing could be considered more of a “get-out-of-the-way” blast.

And finally, a bit of wisdom from an unknown source: “Walking is a wonderful exercise that is sure to prolong your life, unless you try to cross the street.”

A question left over from last month:

Why is February the shortest month?

Well, here’s an explanation.  Back in Julius Caesar’s days, the months alternated: 31 days, 30 days, 31 days, etc., for a total of 366 days.

Julius decided he wanted a month named after him. He took the seventh month, named it July, shoved the other months down a notch with the last month dropping off the end.

That month had 30 days.  Julius thought his month should be one of the longest so he took a day from February and added it to July, giving July 31 days and February 29 days.

When Augustus came along, he wanted a month of his own. He couldn’t be ahead of Julius so he took the next month and named it August.

Like Julius, he shoved the other months down and another one dropped off the end. That month had 31 days. Augustus wouldn’t be outdone by Julius so he took another day out of poor February and added it to August.

February then had 28 days. We lost 31 and gained 30, for a new total of 365 days.

No, I haven’t been carrying all this information around with me since fifth grade; I found most of it on “Askville by Amazon.”

 

… Roy Hodge  

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