One memorable winter was in February 1962, my eighth-grade year. Twenty-two inches of snow fell in four days, with white-out blizzard conditions and howling winds.
Dad strung a thick rope from the fencepost near the house to the well house. We followed the fence from the tank to the barn. Another rope spanned the corral from the northeast corner of the barn to the hog shed. The wind blew and shaped drifts higher than our porch roof.
We took turns helping Dad scoop around the porch steps until we created an impressive frozen wave of snow that curved around the stoop. White castles of snow drifts hid the fences, so the animals walked on the encrusted drifts wherever they pleased.
No indentations revealed where the ditches framed the road. The milk truck from the cheese factory couldn’t make it through so Dad dumped the milk on the ground after we had fed some to the hogs. He tried to save as much as he could by emptying the chest freezer.
Dad put the meat in a snowdrift. The milk ruined the deep freeze when it seeped through the seals and into the motor. He cried over the waste.
The cold of that winter blasted colder than my young mind could remember. Temps dived below freezing and the added north wind contributed to dangerous wind chills. The actual temperature dropped to 32 degrees below zero shortly after the heavy snow in February.
We hand carried grain and hay to the animals, chopped ice with an ax in the hog waterers and for the cattle tank. A fountain of frozen water draped over the rim of the tank from the spout.
We finished chores long after dark and stayed out way too long. Ice crystals formed where teardrops and runny noses met hats and scarves. I can still see tears running down Mom’s cheeks as she rubbed our frostbitten hands until they warmed.
My fingertips and the balls of my feet are still affected by time spent outdoors in the cold and the chores of that year. As with every winter season, spring brings the thaw.
The vast amount of snow created icicles, wonders to behold, and the biggest I’ve seen in my life. My brothers broke some of the long narrow ones off the roof, turned them into swords, and danced about.
As tough country kids, germs weren’t in our vocabulary. We stood beneath the eaves with our tongues out and caught the drips as the sun’s golden rays melted the icicles into rain.