It’s the same thing every time it snows.

I crawl out of that black, oversized coffin I call a bedroom and stumble toward a window. I warily lift a blind slat and squint out at the overly white world before me. I look upon the freshly fallen snow with all the dawning horror of a surfer who spots a dorsal fin rising out of the water.

And then the swearing begins — long strings of swearing so dense with guttural cussing, sailors and rap stars cover their ears in shock and shame. If there’s enough snow – or if it has mixed with rain to create that shovel-bending hell of concrete slush – the swearing will last the entire day, eventually wearing my vocal cords down to nubs and shaming my family name for generations to come.

I regret nothing. I hate snow. You’ve got to shovel it. Brush, scrape and knuckle it from your windshield. You’ve got to stomp over mountains of it just to get to the sidewalk. It blows down your shirt and, occasionally, your pants. Driving in it blows, and when you finally get back home after hours of creeping and sliding, just looky here! Your driveway is full again.

That’s when the swearing resumes.

And this is just the thing. What really tees me off about snow is that if I could zip back in time a fair number of years, I’d find myself in a time when I loved it as much as I now loathe it.


Zip back to a stage of life before jobs and cars and other crappy grown-up stuff and a monster snowstorm was the best thing in the world. It was like waking up to find Six Flags in your backyard and not a teacher, parent or other overly cautious chaperone in sight.

We’d start by getting our minds right on the hills behind the Waterville Armory — hills so immense, we needed Sherpas to guide us to the peaks way up there in the clouds. We’d hurl ourselves down those hills on flimsy, plastic sleds bought on sale at Laverdiere’s, giddy bags of bones streaking down the slopes at speeds that would make our eyes water and the skin of our faces stretch back over our cold-numbed skulls.

Branches would slash at our frozen flesh like rapiers. We’d hit the jumps and go airborne, narrowly missing trees, birds or other kids on flimsy sleds before crashing down again with the kind of impact that would rearrange our internal organs.

We’d land at the bottom of the final hill all at once in a messy tangle of arms, legs and the shredded remains of coats, mittens and slow-moving Sherpas. We’d gather ourselves — dazed, bleeding, slightly concussed — and then consider the snow-white world around us.

“So,” we’d ask one another. “What do you want to do today?”

Where to begin, right? Snowballing cars over on Hazelwood? Full-contact king of the hill? Tunnel digging? Fort building? Some truly stupid stuff involving a school bus, roof rake and one of those saucer sleds?


In those giddy days of our youth, imagination and sheer recklessness got us through those snow days far more effectively than any 320-cc, two-stage Toro ever would in the dull years to come. We were Olympians of fun, mon ami! If, that is, the Olympics had no rules, safety equipment or adult supervision.

So, I was wondering if it’s just me. Am I the only one who remembers snow as an all-day fun fest rather than the soul-killing drag it would eventually become?

It turns out that, no. It’s not just me. A lot of grown-ups of today were once stupid, thrill-seeking children in that age of relentless good times.

“When I was a kid in Lewiston, we did a lot of random — and unsafe — things,” said Joseph Carro, who lives in Portland for some reason. “I remember when I lived on Maple Street there was a large parking lot shared by three or four apartment buildings. We’d build snow forts, throw snowballs at each other — and sometimes at cars, causing them to screech to a halt and their owners to rush us — and even jump from third- or fourth-floor porches into snowbanks, unaware that there could be rusty signs or vehicles or other dangerous things waiting beneath the snow piles.

“We also ate lots of snow and icicles,” Carro said, “skated down streets when the streets were icy, went sledding in the park behind Blackie’s (it had one of the biggest hills) or we made snowmen in Kennedy Park.”

“My brothers and their friends built snow jumps off a chicken house roof,” said Helen Couillard of Turner. “They made me ride on the back of a toboggan and I thought I would be paralyzed for life after hitting the ground. I only did it once.”


“Sledding, snow forts and jumping off the shed roof if the snow was deep enough,” said Dan Charest, who didn’t say where he’s from but clearly it’s a place that has snow and sheds.

“We’d take our plastic sleds up on the roof and slide off,” said Janet Fitzpatrick of Turner. “A neighbor had an old boat in the yard that we would all pile in and use it for a redneck toboggan. Sledding is for city folk. Country people go sliding.”

So, this morning I crawled out of my oversized-coffin room, stumbled to a window and peered out. It had snowed again. I cringed. I swore. I vowed to move out of this frozen tundra by the arrival of next winter.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the window, a kid of about 10 was using a modified roof rake to pole vault over a snowbank while two other lads used hockey sticks to fire snowballs at him. I don’t know what this game was called, but they were clearly using it to get their minds right before going off in search of greater snow adventures.

Such is the difference between men and boys.

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