We were out so long that our socks were soaked in the cold, icy water that had once been snow. It snuck into our boots through tiny holes in our armor, somehow penetrating the elastic of our waterproof pants, our solar gloves that warmed our hands the longer we were out there, our fleece inner linings, even my polarized sunglasses seemed to be wet straight through. I grabbed my coveted sled, the IceBreaker 3000 and told Madison it was time to go home. She agreed.
As we walked home, lightweight titanium sleds folded up and placed on our backs, and the sun set, the world still glowed a whitish-blue and lights from houses and porch lights stood out in a yellowish tint, unless of course they were energy-savers, pronounced by a bluish-white. As we approached home we could see our Mommom sitting in the bay window in her favorite chair, drinking tea.
We walked in the front door and began unloading our clothing, and after a quick shedding of layers we finally entered the living room where she sat.
“Have fun, kids?”
“Uh huh,” we answered in unison.
“Come on, I have some hot chocolate for you.”
“Is it low fat?” my little sister asked.
“I like mine with soy milk,” I said.
“Of course,” she responded.
We ran over and picked up our respective glasses, and she leaned forward long enough for us to grab the fleece blanket that rested on the chair behind her, to snuggle up.
“Boy how things have changed,” she said, looking up at me and removing the sunglasses from my head, placing them on a nearby table.
Madison was the first to take the bait. “How, Mommom Betty?”
She looked out, mesmerized by the slowly falling flakes, and smiled.
It was 1923, and the first snow day we’d had in years. I waited impatiently for mom to finish cleaning the kitchen so she could approve of my snow clothing. Finally she came in, drying her hands on her apron.
“Okay let’s see how you’ve done,” she said with a warm smile.
I stood at attention, ready for inspection.
“No, no, no Betty. This is no good. Come on.”
She took me upstairs to the attic, pulled open the large, seldom-used bottom drawer and started rooting through it. She pulled out pair after pair of long johns, and put them into a pile in front of me. Finally, after four pairs of pants and two shirts she stopped.
“Okay get those snow pants off and put these on.”
“All of them?”
“Yes. Do that while I go look for more shirts.”
I sighed and started taking off the pants, putting on pair after pair until I felt like I was twice my original size. I ran down to her, looking around in other drawers in her room, anxious to go out and play.
Finally, mom gave up. “I guess that’ll have to do. Here are gloves and a hat. Let me help you get those snow pants back on.”
I was struggling trying to put them on over the several pairs of long johns, unsuccessfully. The pants just wouldn’t fit.
“Stand up,” mother said, smiling. She held onto the pants as I jumped up and down, shoving my way into them. “Okay that should do it. Let’s get that coat on. And next the gloves, okay hat, and now let’s put on your hood.”
I hated the hood. I frowned at her.
“Frown all you want, young lady, I will not have you catching your death of cold out there. That’s how people get sick.”
She tied the hood tight, too tight, and double-knotted it so I couldn’t possibly untie it, especially considering my mittens.
“Okay now for the socks,” she said handing me two more pairs of thick, heavy socks my great-grandmother had sent me. “Now boots!” as she shoved them on over the socks. I was finally ready.
“Okay now go have fun.”
I ran outside to the garage, where dad had left my wooden sled for me against the big wooden door. It was hard and tiring to walk with all of those layers, but well worth it. Soon I would be sledding with my friends at the park. I put the sled down into the snow, the metal rails scratching against the driveway underneath the snow a bit where father had shoveled. I tried three times before successfully clutching the frayed twine that acted as a rope handle for it, finally grabbing it between the small and giant finger my mittens changed my hand into, and I was ready.
There was nothing like that moment walking to the playground as I could see small heads popping up at the top of the hill, then disappearing down into a snowy pit, screaming in happiness all the way down. I could hear the fun from a block away, before I could even see it, and as I got closer I walked faster, anticipating the fun.
I made it. I walked to the top of the hill, and saw all of my friends, unrecognizable in all those layers of clothing, at the bottom, waving me down. They were making snow angels. I brought my sled to the edge, sat down, grabbed the wooden handles that let me steer, and slowly pushed myself off of the top of the hill.
After a little over an hour, I knew I had to head home, and started the sad walk back. Mother wouldn’t want me gone much longer, and certainly would be cross with me if I missed lunch.
I got home, placed the sled right where father had left it, and went to the back door, where I knew I had to go to take off layer upon layer of snowy, wet clothing.
And when I finally finished, mother had a hot chocolate sitting at the table, a real one made from milk and melted chocolate, and I sipped it, feeling the warmth flow through my shivering body.
At this point, she had fallen asleep, and I sipped my soy hot chocolate, finally warming up, and I, too felt that warmth from the drink. As I got up to play Rock Band with Madison, I noticed something Mommom’s hand, and reached out, carefully taking it.
It was a photo, wrinkled and black and white, of my Mommom all bundled up, pulling her sled in front of our house. She looked a lot like Madison.