Due to an injury, we are unfortunately avoiding one of our family’s favorite winter activities.
Typically, once the lake effect snow begins to blanket the eastern half of Ohio, we try to fit in several cross-country skiing adventures.
However, this year my oldest daughter is sporting an air cast boot because of a stress reaction in her cuboid bone. She would much rather strap into a cross-country ski boot than the air cast. The boot is forcing her to slow down and refocus.
We did find that apple orchard plastic bags are the perfect thickness to slip her foot inside and keep everything dry. While cross-country skiing was out of the question, sled riding was still possible.
Several hills work on our property for sled riding, but nothing beats the speed and distance obtained on cemetery hill. If conditions are right, the sled and rider can reach the creek.
While the equipment may look different, the activity is nothing new around here. Decades before high density polyethylene boards flew down the hill, cousins gathered and hopped on an old inverted car hood. From what I’ve heard, it really picked up momentum as it careened down the hill.
They also used to burn old tires down by the creek to keep warm. We’ve changed that too by burning wood at the top instead.
Another winter activity is on standby until the weather cooperates. The boys keep checking the weather forecast, hoping for a cold spell that will freeze the ponds.
Behind my house is what I so affectionately refer to as “the swamp.” As it was drained and enlarged 20 years ago, I envisioned a pristine lake to be used for fishing and swimming. Instead, it’s murky and changes from hues of green to dark brown in the summer.
It does have a practical use of supplying minnows for fishing in the summer. Also, it is the perfect hockey rink in the winter. Old metal milk crates are used for goals; the lip on the bottom forms an extra challenge, making it necessary to create lift when striking the puck.
Teams are chosen based on ages and abilities, a span of 60 years in the players is typical. The air is frosty breathing in, but an exhale hangs in the air in the form of warm and moist vapor. Skates grip the ice while the clanging of hockey sticks echoes in the surrounding trees.
The conditions have to be perfect to make the ice solid and smooth like glass. This year, there is a lot of waiting. Patience is being perfected while we wait for a healed bone and for lakes to freeze.
Wonderment of snowflakes
Many things can be learned in silence and waiting. My daughter discovered that snowflakes melt slowly on the cold plastic of a sled. They melt quickly on her hand or her jacket, but the sled was the perfect temperature to observe the hexagonal design of snowflakes.
She snapped a picture with my phone and then began to edit. She was able to zoom in on the snowflake, noticing the intricate design.
The wonderment of minute snowflakes was made famous by Wilson Bentley, an American meteorologist. Before he was a photographer and meteorologist, he was a curious boy growing up in the snow belt of Vermont.
At first, he was mesmerized by the vastness of the universe he observed with his telescope. Then, his attention shifted from the immeasurable universe to the miniscule details in his microscope.
Between the ages of 15 and 19, Bentley went from drawing the snowflakes he observed in his microscope to being the first person to photograph snowflakes. Studying and sharing the symmetrical, hexagonal and unique shapes became his life calling.
I am sure Wilson Bentley had a lot of time in Vermont in the winter to think and reflect. As a result of his patience, he is a famous artist that changed how people view snow changing it from mundane to magical.
The weather, while it follows patterns and air currents are tracked, is unpredictable. The doctors have an estimate on how long it takes a bone to heal, but cannot be exact.
Meanwhile, in the waiting time, we are taking our focus from the big picture to small details of winter.
The artistry of individual snowflakes is a great distraction for eyes watching the small, slushy oval at the center of the pond slowly solidify.
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