Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

March 9, 2014

Ed Hungness: Now this was a 'real' winter

‘When I was a kid, I walked three miles down a country road during the middle of winter to get to school. There were no sidewalks, we walked in the wagon ruts and the snow was higher than our heads!”

How many of you have heard a story like that from a grandpa describing the hardships of getting an education during his youth?

“The school was just one room with a potbelly stove for heat and there was no insulation! If we had to go to the bathroom, we went to the outhouse, behind the school,” Sound familiar?

Everyone has a memory of what winter was like when they were young. Like a fish story, the details of snow depths and low temperatures occasionally get exaggerated with time. I confess to embellishing a few of my own stories along the way.

I wonder what kind of stories a grandpa in south Florida tells his grandchildren who have never experienced snow?

“Yeah sonny, I can remember one winter when it got so cold that I had to put on a long-sleeved shirt, jeans and shoes with socks. It was so cold that we canceled the Christmas pig roast and BBQ!”

I think winter weather horror stories would be better left to grandpas living in the vicinity of the 45th Parallel. Grandpas living in the South should limit their stories to heat, humidity and alligators.

There is an old saying, “be careful what you wish for.” My friends have heard me grumble on more than one occasion in the past five years that it had been years since we had a “real winter.” Instead our winters have been wimpy, dull and forever gray. Every fall I hoped for a real doozy of a winter only to be met with disappointment.

This year my weather wish was rewarded. Fall arrived and uncle Bob and I made our weather prediction long before the weather gurus stuck their necks out. We based our scientific forecast on hints passed to us via Mother Nature. Our first tip was courtesy of the abundant oak trees. We had an over-abundant fall crop of acorns. Squirrels and chipmunks worked overtime stashing them away for what was to come. The theory is that nature provides for its own and somehow the animals seem to sense what is lurking on the horizon.

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