Building memories of the winter that almost wasn’t

Is it spring yet?

No really, I’m asking. I can’t tell. It doesn’t really seem like spring, but then it didn’t really feel much like winter the last few months, either.

My childhood memories of winter aren’t like this. I remember constant cold, endless sledding, and ice skating across the lake. I remember testing out my new cross country skis by circling around and around and around and around the front yard, day after day. I remember trying to build a snowman with doubled-up mittens and I remember the crinkle of the Wonder Bread bags in my boots as I trudged through snowbanks. (My mother read some Hint from Heloise about putting bread bags in your kids boots as a waterproofing measure and I suffered that indignity for years. Thanks, Heloise.)

I don’t remember this frustration my kids have dealt with the last few years of waiting for the perfect day, of having my skates hang uselessly in the mudroom as the ice hesitantly formed and then melted in cycles, of bare patches on the sledding hill.

There was no snow, there was too much snow, it was too cold, it was too warm, the ice was good, the ice was bad…it seemed like the window for winter fun this year was so narrow. If I happened to be working the one day that was good for cross-country skiing, I missed the opportunity. If my child had an after school activity the one day between when the pond was frozen and when it was covered with snow, she didn’t get to skate on it. We went sledding twice this year, I think, and it wasn’t for lack of trying.

We did this. Twice.

I don’t remember those winters from my childhood.

But surely I had those winters, too.

Surely there were days when it was too dangerous to go on the ice, when my skis sat useless in a corner, when my boots didn’t require Wonder Bread bags. (Really, Mom, I’ll never get over that.)

An often repeated adage (frequently attributed to Maya Angelou) says that “People may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

I think that might be true for winter, too. When all is said and done, my kids won’t remember whether the winter of 2017-18 had more or less sledding that the winter of 2016-17 or 2018-19. They haven’t kept a tally of the times they build a snow fort versus the times they played in a slush puddle. No, they aren’t tracking that kind of thing.

What they will remember is frozen eyelashes, stomping through crusty snow, the weirdness of sudden thaws, and that moment of triumph sliding across a lake. They will remember building snow forts that were gone the next day. They will remember how all that thawing, flooding, and freezing meant a magical afternoon skating through frozen woods.

They will remember how winter made them feel.

In the end, that’s all that matters.

But, really.

Is it spring yet?

Cherie Galyean

About Cherie Galyean

In a perfect world, Cherie Galyean would spend hours every day chasing her kids up hiking trails, pretending to garden, and baking things. Instead, she works full-time in the non-profit sector and fits those other things in-between loads of laundry in her free time. A Maine native with multiple hometowns, she currently lives on Mount Desert Island with her husband, seven-year-old daughter, five-year-old son, and the best shelter mutt in the world.