Growing up with winter in the Midwest

Winter either bites with its teeth or lashes with its tail. 
~Proverb

I’m sure you are incredibly tired of me talking about infertility. But in all honesty, this blog is about my life and right now, infertility is ruling my life.  A year ago, my husbands patrols/deployments were ruling my life and that’s what I wrote about. Eventually, we’ll have children (whether they are biological or adopted remains to be seen) and they will probably dominate my blogging.

For today, I want to talk about winter. Winter in Washington is generally pretty mild. We do get snow from time to time and when we get it, it sucks because no one can drive in it, they don’t use salt and there aren’t many plows that can move the snow.

But, I grew up in Michigan. The northern part of the lower peninsula to be more precise (and yes, I can show you on my hand). When I was really young, I loved winter. We would get a ton of snow. Forget snowmen, we’d make snow forts just by tunneling into a snowbank. Sometimes, they were quite elaborate tunnels with multiple “rooms.”

I have a brother who is younger by three years. I would drive the three-wheeler (yes, at 7 years old) with him being towed behind on a rope attached to a saucer or sled. Oh yeah… I learned how to whip that baby around and fling my little brother off. Of course, I wasn’t allowed to do that to him until he was about seven himself, but still… tons of fun.

I can't find a photo of winter in Michigan right now, so here's a photo of my brother and me. He was the CUTEST baby ever!

I can’t find a photo of winter in Michigan right now, so here’s a photo of my brother and me. He was the CUTEST baby ever!

Until it came to the winter during my sixth grade year. That winter, there were three days that hit -20 as a real temp and -60 as a windchill. To say it was bitter doesn’t even begin to describe the hell that was. School was closed for those three days because not only wouldn’t the buses run, but they didn’t want any kids outside. Any skin that was exposed would have frostbite starting to set in in just five minutes. It was horrible.

But guess what? We had horses. And they needed to be fed. And given water. I clearly remember I had “inside” chore duty that week (my brother and I alternated inside and outside chores) but because my brother was only 8, my mom didn’t feel he was old enough to be out in that weather. So I had to help my dad do the horse chores. The horses were locked up in a big run-in (meaning no stalls) barn with tons of straw.

Our water tank had water heater, but it couldn’t keep up with the cold. And all the outdoor faucets were frozen. So we had to haul two five-gallon buckets each from inside the house out to the horse barn. We had to make several trips back and forth (three or so) twice a day. It was so cold we couldn’t make it all the way there without stopping at the horse trailer, which was about halfway between the house and the barn. We’d jump in for a few minutes to “warm up.”

When we’d return to the house, my mom would unwrap our scarves, which were completely ice-encrusted across our mouth and nose thanks to our breath. Our snot was frozen to our face. She’d hand each of us two more piping hot buckets of water, wrap a scarf fresh from the dryer on our face/neck and send us back out again.

It was then that I started hating winter. I still hate it. I think snow is pretty but if it comes with cold, I’d prefer no snow. No way, no how. Due to the inevitable frostbite that started to set in my toes that winter, I now have one toe that–if it starts getting cold–will feel the temperatures before any other one. If it’s too cold, it’ll start tingling and go completely numb. Luckily, that hasn’t happened since I moved to Washington.

What was your worst winter?

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4 thoughts on “Growing up with winter in the Midwest

  1. I grew up in NC, so your story makes me thankful for those mild winters!! I was a wussy little girl (and still kind of am) so I probably would have died.

  2. Brrr! The mere act of reading your post makes me want to pull my robe tighter around me and pour another cup of tea. The winters we had in the DC area were nowhere near as frigid, and we certainly didn’t have any horses to tend. One memorable winter, we got almost three feet of snow, which pretty much shut down the entire region for over a week. All of us schoolkids thought our prayers had been gloriously, spectacularly answered — until we had to make up all the missed days at the end of the school year which pushed our last day nearly to the end of June. In retrospect, I’m sure our teachers were even less enthused about that than we were.

  3. The worst one for me was here in Washington, in 2010. It wasn’t that it was cold or too snowy, it was that the power was out for 3 days and 2 nights and Cara was just turning 2 and Ric was only 3 months old.

    The first day we had most of it with the power on, but toward dinnertime it went off. We stayed home under lots of blankets. I slept on the couch bundled with Ric and Josh slept in bed with Cara. Worst night of sleep EVER!

    The next day we ventured into Silverdale (from Port Orchard) to spend the day with some friends who had an actual fireplace. We then ventured to the mall since they had power. Went back to our friend’s house and called around the whole peninsula to try to find a hotel room…we found one on Bainbridge Island…we got the ONLY room left available.

    Luckily the next day we were on our way to Idaho to see some family for Thanksgiving…and they had power…so we got to stay warm in the car and warm over the weekend there.

    I remember a lot of pretty bad winters in Michigan, including one where I was stuck at a friend’s house for 3 days/nights because of how much snow there was…that was horrible (she was an only child and was spoiled and always got her way…still love her to this day, but I had a different opinion of her after this happened)…but this is still worse because it was MY kids having to suffer. Luckily it hasn’t happened again…

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