There’s not many days in my early childhood I can nail down to the date and time, but this is one of them.  I recalled the date not because I remembered it, but it was in the news, and made local history.  It was, as the Augusta Chronicle in Augusta Georgia reported:  “The largest-ever snowfall . . . a two-day event Feb. 9-10, 1973, with a combined accumulation of 14 inches.”   They even have a bunch of photos you can look at: http://chronicle.augusta.com/slideshow/2013-02-08/historic-photos-and-video-big-snow-1973#slide-1

I remember because it was soon after we’d come back from Germany.  We were prepared. We had snow suits, boots, gloves and mittens, sleds and skiing gear.  We even had ice skates! – but there was no pond around. I don’t think there was an ice rink in Georgia, unless you went to Omni in Atlanta,though I can’t be sure.

But there we were, surrounded by a “bunch of country hicks” as many might view them – friends of ours, left behind for a number of years, but some fast friends none the less.  They oohed and ahhhed over our equipment – tall blue skis outfitted with chrome clamps, the yellow lens glasses, the thick alpine gear.  We even broke our sled out – it was an old traditional German one, sturdy with wooden runners below a raised deck, and barely steerable.  But that was fine with our friends and all!  We let them borrow it, hauling it around – everyone was out tripping through the snow and throwing it around.  Meanwhile my brother and I got our skies on and began duckwalking up the shallow hill.  It was easy, far easier than some of the bunny hills I’d been on overseas, and I leaned on my poles, pushing forward – it was wet snow, unpacked, fresh as the day it’d been laid, with little to no crust at all – but my brother and I were determined to show them a little of what we’d done “over there”.

Like I said, it was an easy hill, but a lot of the residents gathered along the road as my brother and I slid down – assuming the correct position, though it was barely needed – bent kneed, leaning forward, poles tucked under the arms.  They applauded as we went by.  We got a lot of cheers despite our lack of talent or showmanship.  The fact was, we couldn’t get up enough speed for any slaloming or cutting fancy curves, throwing snow as high as our shoulder like we’d done in the Alpine resorts.  After all, it was a ‘fun’ neighborhood mostly, despite the fights that would occasionally break out, and a couple of neighbors getting drunk and punching their wives (or vis versa).  And we knew a lot of people there, even if we didn’t get along with all them.  We had changed. They had changed.  But a lot were our friends – old timers, people who’d been there from the very beginning.

But deep inside I knew.  It was like a dark forboding.  Our “Ice Age” was ending – no longer would we live in the Northern latitudes.  And “inside” an Ice Age was already beginning.  A sense of ‘separation’ within myself.  Again.  I could ‘feel’ an outside ‘me’ wry watching ‘me’ skiing, going down that hill, looking at the snow all around; feeling the heavy skies, the biting cold – and looking at my neighbors throwing snowballs around, listening to that sled creaking over the snow:

I knew it wouldn’t last. Not long. Not much longer than this snow.  A few of our friends joked that we’d brought a little Germany home, saying: “Hey! You returned and look what you brought back!  It’s good!”  I knew it was just stupid dumb luck, but I was glad to see it and glad to have it.

I knew it would be a long time before I’d have reason to be on skies again, if ever*.  That and all the snow gear we had.  But I was okay with that.  This it gave me a chance to say farewell to them, and embrace a new life again.  One in this ‘hood.  So I enjoyed it, but . . . it was a pathetic excuse for what I knew I’d miss.  That hill that wasn’t much of one . . . even for a bunny hill.


 

 

* It turned out I was wrong.  Later my parents would take me out to visit my Western relatives, who’d took us on a skiing trip to Colorado that year.