It was brutally cold.
With my face pressed to one small pane of cold glass and my brother next to me doing the same, we stared spellbound as the howling wind drove the snow against our upstairs bedroom window.
Our vision clouded by the ferocity of the flakes in the growing darkness, we took refuge beneath our bunkbed comforters and drifted off to sleep. As we did, the north wind shrieked across the sky and through the farmyard, rattling the windows as though demanding entrance.
The snow drifts would pile high, the mercury would drop low – well below zero. As the storm passed and the sun rose in the cold stillness of a midwestern winter morning, this meant it would be time for me and my brother to play.
But “play” – according to our father in the days before snow blowers – was to shovel the four to seven foot drifts that blocked the driveway.
The snow was hard packed, so as we shoveled we cut blocks out of the white stuff to later make a snow fort. When we finished our work, we would spend the rest of the day building an impenetrable fortress complete with tunnels – should we need to escape from our imaginary foes.
But those great battles would sometimes have to wait when in the waning hours of daylight we would hear the repeated “rap-rap-rap” on the kitchen window in which our mother would mouth the words: “Time. To. Eat.”
We knew this, though, before she said a word.
For the last hour or so, the late afternoon aroma of homemade chicken noodle soup and oven-baked beer bread had slipped beneath the back door threshold and drifted like an unseen visitant across the yard to where we had worked and played.
From a perch atop our snow fort, we would climb down and cross the yard to our family table to enjoy a priceless comfort of hot chicken noodle soup and warm beer bread in the fading light of a cold winter day.
Such is one of the wonders of childhood.
Author’s note: The childhood memories here are those of John Simpson, editor and team photographer for a coffee table book we are hoping one day to publish.
John grew up in northwestern Ohio and of those mornings after blizzards he writes, “More times than not, there would be an almost palpable stillness to the cold and sunny day.
“To this day, I can still hear the shriek of the north wind; I can still feel the bite of the cold through my mittens and on my cheeks; I can still see the bright sunlight reflecting off the snow.”
“I also remember how high the snow drifts were!”
In simply putting Simpson’s memories in story form, I hope – as he does – that you, the reader, will also fondly recall the idyllic times of your own childhood.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.