Saturday, January 8, 2011

52 Weeks of Sharing Memories...The Climate Where I Grew Up

Following with this wonderful prompt, here is this week's assignment:

"Week 2: Winter. What was winter like where and when you grew up? Describe not only the climate, but how the season influenced your activities, food choices, etc."
I grew up in the Navy seaport of Norfolk, Virginia. So we were located almost mid-point between Florida and Maine. We enjoyed wonderful balmy summers, but also those cold Chesapeake Bay winters!

The temperature often dipped around the freezing mark, and even down into the 20's on occasion. That meant bundling up in heavy coats and scarves, with hats and gloves or mittens.

However, when there was a snowfall, it was very light. Usually less than an inch. But that always meant a day home from school when it happened, [and yes, that was rare!], because Norfolk is not equipped with snow plows!

In the winter of 1972-1973 there came a "heavy" snowfall for the area. We had almost 12-inches of snow! Can you believe the schools were closed for eight days due to this snowfall??? [We laugh now, because that isn't anything compared to our mountain snows here in West Virginia!]

A snowfall always meant a snowman in the yard....and snow cream!!!

Mama would take a big [HUGE] mixing bowl and spoon up snow into it. Then she'd mix sugar, evaporated milk and vanilla and pour over it all and then mix it up.

Heaven!!! It was snow cream!!!

We would get so cold eating the snow cream [worse than "brain freeze! this was total body freeze, even though we were eating it inside!!!] that we would wrap up in a quilt or afghan as we ate it! By the time we'd finish our huge bowl of goodness, we'd be shivering! But, Lordy, was it fun! And GOOD!!!

I continued that little tradition with my own children, and even now they look forward, as adults, to snow cream when it snows!

We also had hot chocolate and hot cider. Mama always put big, fat, fluffy marshmallows in the hot chocolate! We didn't have instant hot chocolate back then, so Mama got out the big can of Hershey's cocoa, sugar, vanilla and milk and made the hot chocolate in a saucepan on the stove. To this day, when hubby and I look for comfort food in the wintertime, we look for a cup of "homemade" hot chocolate. Nothing is better!!!

Mama would buy cider in gallon glass containers. [These containers resembled old time whiskey jugs but were made of clear glass.] She'd then pour the cider into a sauce pan to heat it for us. You've got to remember... we didn't have microwaves back then!

We didn't have the modern conveniences we have now, and which may have spoiled us a bit!, but we sure enjoyed the goodies that came in winter!

Mama would pick a really cold night, several hours after dinner, and while we were watching television she would leave our den and sneak out for something. When she came back she'd tell us we could stay up a little late that night because she had a surprise for us.

Mind you, my Mama couldn't cook a lick. There were a couple of things she managed to do well, but they were few! But she tried, and we didn't starve!!!

Well, Mama would always try to make homemade fudge. Oh, yes, that ooey, gooey, stovetop fudge that required boiling, and boiling and boiling. Remember the kind? Mama didn't own a candy thermometer, and I reckon she never learned about the cold water test [dropping the liquid into the cold water and testing it to make a soft ball]. So Mama tried her best to make fudge.

She greased her favorite platter with butter, and followed her "recipe". It would never set up and become firm! No matter what!!! Even if she refrigerated it.

She would then bring the platter and three spoons [one for my sister, me and one for her] and we would eat her "fudge" with the spoons! We affectionately nicknamed Mama's fudge "goop". And years later when my sister and I were grown, my sister used to call me up and ask me to come over. It would be freezing cold outside, and we'd snuggle up side by side on her sofa, and eat "goop", Mama's failed fudge recipe.

Today... it's simply way to rich for me! LOL But I recall it often, and always with fond memory.

As children, we were outside with the beginning of any snowfall! It was always so much fun to see who could catch snowflakes on their tongue! And of course, there were the infamous snowball fights! And the making of a snowman! Some homes quite elaborate snowmen! Ours was always a simple three giant snowballs, with twig arms, buttons made up the eyes and mouth, and a carrot for a nose. Sometimes we would be allowed to give him an old cap and a scarf... just depended upon the mood Mama was in if we could sneak one out to put on poor old Frosty or not!

There was never enough snow for sleigh riding however. It wasn't until I was a teenager and we moved to the mountains that I got to enjoy that fun! And you have no idea what fun is until you grease down the runners on an old sled and get at the top of a high hill, jump on belly down, and literally fly down the hillside! Now that, my friend, is true winter fun!!! The only event that beats that???

Sledding down a steep hill on a car hood! Woo-hoo!!! The best fun in the whole wide world!!! We'd jump onto the underside of an old car hood [the bigger the better] and I'm talking 6 or 8 of us, and ride down the hill! The weight, and momentum would carry us a long ways!

What did you do when you were growing up during the winter? What kind of climate did you live in? What were your favorite winter activities?

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