Posted tagged ‘winter jackets’

“He that passeth a winter’s day, escapeth an enemy.”

January 19, 2016

Winter is here. Yesterday was freezing. Last night the wind never stopped. It surrounded me and was all I could hear as I was falling asleep. I wasn’t cold but I still snuggled under the covers as if I needed to keep the wind at bay. Gracie circled several times then plopped herself beside me. Fern followed suit but without the circling and on my other side. Gracie was the quickest to fall asleep. I heard her snoring.

Walking to school in the winter was chilliest at the beginning. Walking home was chilliest at the end. Every winter’s day I was bundled in a vast array of garments. Starting from inside out, I wore pink long underwear which came to my knees and a tee shirt under my blouse. My mother demanded we add a sweater, usually blue to match our uniforms, because our old classrooms had such high ceilings they were difficult to keep toasty. She figured we needed that bit of extra warmth. Knee socks came up high enough that only a small spot on each leg got cold. My jacket was thick and had a zipper. My mittens and hat were wool.

I remember at the end of the day being called row by row to the cloakroom so we could get our coats and stuff. We were always in rows: we sat in rows and we walked in rows usually 2 by 2 to go in or out of the school and to go to the bathrooms in the basement. If we needed to go during the day, we always asked for permission to go to the basement. Nobody ever called them the lavs or the bathrooms. That was one of the peculiarities of my old school. The cloak rooms were another.

Going home in the afternoon, I was never dressed as warmly as I had been in the morning. All my mother’s efforts to keep me warm were mostly undone. Sometimes I couldn’t get the zipper parts to join together so I left my jacket opened. I didn’t really like hats so mine was stashed in one of my pockets. My mother was never pleased.

“In New England we have nine months of winter and three months of darned poor sledding.”

December 17, 2015

Today is dreary and wet. The rain started last night and continues. It will be in the mid 50’s today and for the next few days. There will be no white Christmas this year in New England.

I have a picture of me standing on the front steps of our house holding on to my new bike. The picture was taken a couple of days after Christmas. I was glad for no snow that year. Had I gotten a new sled, I wouldn’t have been smiling.

The sleds we all used had metal frames, metal runners and a steering device near the top we could move from side to side though it didn’t steer all that well. The rest of our sleds were wooden slats we’d lie on to ride downhill. We had to bend at the knees so part of our legs and our feet were in the air. If we needed them, our feet acted as brakes though most times the hill ended and so did our ride. I was lucky to live on a hill, a really good hill. I could choose to walk to the top or just go from my street which would still give me a good ride. We had to be careful at the bottom because our street was perpendicular to another street, and if we slid across that street, no cars could see us. Sometimes one of us would stand there and give warning if we needed to stop. We all hoped to keep going because sledding over that street into the field was the best and the longest ride, and having the longest ride was in no small measure a matter of pride.

I remember getting dressed for sledding. I wanted to be warm but not bogged down by clothing as I did have an uphill trek pulling my sled behind me after every ride down. We all wore leggings tucked into our boots. They were waterproof and made that swishing sound when we walked. Our jackets sometimes matched but most times didn’t as we’d grow out of one or the other. The jackets had zippers and were always hard to zip so my mother would do the honors. Our hands stayed warm in mittens. Most of us avoided hats, but if my mother insisted, I’d wear a wool hat which mostly covered the back of my head and tied under my chin but would ditch it as soon as I got the chance. I didn’t care if most of my body heat escaped through my head as my mother claimed.

I remember speeding down the hill and thinking this is what flying must be like. I never wanted to go inside, but when I was chilled to the bone, I dragged myself home, parked my sled in the pile of snow by the back door, went inside to the cellar, got out of my wet clothes, hung them up to dry and went upstairs for a cup of cocoa with marshmallow floating on the top. That was the perfect ending to a day of sledding.

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