I don't have clear memories of spending hours building giant snow fortresses or populating the front yard with lopsided snow people. I'd always just assumed that's what happened since I clearly remember the results. I'd just figured a substantial chunk of my childhood winters were spent thawing out, just as I'd spent an entire month of every summer submerged under water. My lips would be blue and my teeth chattering and still I'd insist I was fine.
"I don't know where they get the energy," said tired moms over every kitchen table where I sat sipping cocoa and swinging my legs, as my boots stood helter skelter in an ever-expanding puddle of melting snow on the linoleum.
Perhaps I just have the seasons confused. Maybe the puddles were from waterlogged towels.
I certainly remember the sky blue-colored snow suit with the faux fur around the hood. After I'd outgrown it came a royal blue colored replacement with a hook-closure belt and yellow racing stripes along one side. I called it my snowmobile suit, though no one I knew ever zipped around on one.
Things felt different back then.
I remember a world that seemed perpetually white after the Thanksgiving leftovers had been polished off. I remember the excitement of waiting for a big enough dump of snow to bury the school day ... maybe even two.
I remember having popsicle toes. On more than one occasion.
What I don't remember is how long it took to get dressed in the prerequisite layers of thermal duds, the degree of difficulty in getting last year's boots over three layers of socks, or the dilemma of whether to tuck the pants into the boots or put the boots over the pants.
The holy grail was to keep any and all elements from getting through the armor. The smallest amount of precipitation down a boot or the back of a sweater would put the brakes on everything, except perhaps cocoa commotion.
I don't remember searching for matching gloves or a hat that fit. I don't remember getting a scarf wrapped around my entire body like a snake coiling its dinner. I certainly don't remember taking hours to put on all the gear and spending mere minutes in the snow.
I don't remember my mother pretending to be a horse and racing through knee-deep drifts of snow hoping to recreate the feeling of sledding since the grade of our hill was as flat as Florida.
Florida. It's warm there ... although not lately.
Back then it never occurred to me I'd be standing in waist-high snow with two kids laying prone on a red toboggan behind me as the wind grinds fine crystals of snow into their cheeks. One pass through a make-shift sled run and the novelty has already worn off.
"I want to go back inside."
I look at my watch. It had taken 45 minutes to turn my children into trussed up turkeys and six minutes for their pop-up thermometers to blast off.
"Yeah, I'm cold, too. My wrists are freezing. I can't feel my nose."
They're too young to remember this, I tell myself as I drag the sled back toward the house. They just stare up at the sky and moan melodramatically ... "We can't even see the house it's so far away."
I tell them we will be home and warm soon but they aren't convinced.
"We'll freeze like ice cubes before we get there. I'm so hungry. I might even starve. It's already been hours."
"No it hasn't," I assure them. "It will just seem that way."