A chilly reception for spring

Spring may have sprung, but I think someone forgot to tell Old Man Winter. That little tease we had on Monday was just a bitter joke we discovered as the week wore on. And then, awakening to a little slushy snow cover Thursday was kind of the ultimate insult – snow on April 11.

That yucky, wet precipitation yesterday morning took me right back to 1973 and the much-talked about April blizzard. Though I was just 12 at the time, I have some very vivid memories of looking out my second story bedroom window and seeing drifts even to the edge of the sloped roof covering our enclosed porch. That was something that I’d never seen before. And like all creative and fool-hardy young teens, I imagined how cool it would be to grab my saucer sled and swoosh down that drift. My father, however, dashed those ideas before I even had a chance to put on my snow pants.

Once we burrowed out of the snow that had drifted in around all the entrances to our home, I managed to wade a block down the street to one of the greatest sledding hills ever – Holy Bumps. Every kid who grew up before 1980 in Madrid knew all about the joys of a sled ride down one side of the hill or the other. The front offered a fairly gentle, albeit bouncy, ride while the backside – known as Devil’s Hairpin, offered a thrill ride for brave souls.

It didn’t take long on that April day for Holy Bumps to fill up with sledders. Kids waded through knee-deep and sometimes hip-deep snow to get to the hill. Many were exhausted by the time they arrived. It took some time, but we managed to wear the thick, fresh snow down to a slick, glossy path.

While my friends and I enjoyed that day on the hill, those less fortunate kids who failed to escape shoveling duties, were kept busy most of the day, clearing the heavy wet stuff from sidewalks and driveways. Dad cut through the big drifts in no time with his trusty snowblower. The hardest part of his day was traveling a mile out in the country to feed the horses that we kept at our stable north of town. That meant more scooping just to make it to the barn.

I stepped out of the pickup truck, walked down the drive and managed to step off into a ditch. I sank into four feet of snow. Since I was only a little over 5-foot tall at that time, Dad had to rescue me from the drift. He inched along to the edge of the ditch and managed to give me a pull.

We had about three days off of school for that storm because the country kids couldn’t make it into town. I lived three blocks from the school, but, hey, I wasn’t about to complain. The unfortunate part about that winter was – like the Hamilton County schools this year – we had several days to make up because of the snow. Unfortunately, the district decided that a couple Saturdays would do the trick. And that was agony.

I just realized that I have now slipped into the generation that remembers the “Great blizzard of 1973.” I told my son about the storm and he just rolled his eyes when I talked about the roof-high drifts. He apparently thinks that we “old-timers” exaggerate when it comes to fish stories and blizzards. But one of these days, that little whipper-snapper will be telling his kids and grandkids about that horrible winter of 2013 when they had snow all the way up to April 12.