Friday, December 14, 2012

Let it Snow!

The snow is falling silently. Just yesterday, it got up to 64 degrees F, and everyone was out in their shirt sleeves. It's the magic of a Colorado winter. 

In another few days or a week, the temperature will rise again and we'll forget what it was like to pull on the boots and coat to trudge out to school or take care of the animals. For now, I am just sitting and savoring the silence and the snow. This morning it was a blur, coming down fast, like a fuzzy rain.  Now, giant flakes are taking their time, dancing when the breeze catches them and piling up higher and higher on the ground.

While it's incredibly nice to have the wonderful, sunny days in the middle of winter, I would never want to move to a place where there is no snow. There is something so peaceful about sitting with a cup of tea by the open window, watching while the world around me is covered with a thick, white blanket.  That's when it's nice to be in the house, to come into myself a little more, and take time out just to be.  

Regardless of the fact that Denver tops San Diego in the list of the countries' sunniest cities, and that most of our snow comes in the spring, thoughts of winter bring thoughts of snow, the adventurous times as well as the quiet ones. 

One memorable Christmas, we had a blizzard that made the roads hazardous and threatened to cancel all of our holiday gatherings. The Reinhart clan, ever determined to party on, sent out those family members with snow worthy vehicles to pick up the rest of us. 

For our family, that meant piling everyone inside and tying a wheelchair to the top of the old Scout that our brother-in-law was driving. Two of Chris' brothers drove over to pick up their grandmother, who lived alone on the other side of town. Her street was completely impassable to any vehicle, but that didn't stop them. They hiked through the snow, bundled up Grandmother, and carried her down the block to the truck. I'm sure it was a Christmas she remembered!

Something else that will trigger memories is seeing horses standing in the snow. Then I remember my first kiss and chuckle to myself. 

I was a sophmore in high school and had friends who loved to ride horseback. As one of the families had several horses, I often got to go along with them. This day, they had invited several young men to join us. It was one of those bright, sunny, snowy days after a late winter storm had dumped a foot of snow on the ground. The horses hopped through the deep snow and trudged through the mud where the snow had already melted. We gals were experienced riders by now but the guys were not. The guys did not impress me. Their talk was full of bigoted, hateful remarks about every group of people but themselves. I wanted nothing to do with them.

One of them, however, was determined to ride as close as possible next to me, something that is not advisable when riding on horseback, even if you ride well. He did his best to flirt with me and I did my best to turn him away. Nothing made any difference. I trotted with my horse through a field of mud until my face was coated with the spray from the horse's hooves. He trotted his horse clumsily, right next to mine. It was when he leaned over, grabbed me, and kissed me, muddy lips against muddy lips, that I lost it completely. 

I said nothing, only slowed down suddenly so that my horse was just far enough behind his that I could take my reins and slap his horse on the rump. The horse took off like lightening across the muddy field, its rider bouncing in the seat and holding the ends of the reins. I stopped and watched and smiled, imagining the bruises he'd have the next day. He stayed away from me after that. 

Other snow adventures include tubing down the mountain in Evergreen, checking the feet of 6th graders for frostbite after a long snowy hike at Outdoor Lab Camp, and the morning routine of knocking ice balls off our donkey's hooves. 

Teaching kindergarten curbed my enthusiasm for going out in the snow only because it involved keeping track of 20 hats, coats, and scarves, and 20 pairs of mittens, snow pants, and boots, as well as the process of putting them all on the children and taking them off again.  It was inevitable that at least one child would need to use the bathroom directly after buckling the last buckle and zipping up his or her coat. At last we would be ready, and as soon as we were outside we had a great time. 

The teachers enjoyed the snow too, and we once spent the first half hour of our faculty meeting sledding down the hill on the playground.

Ah, the snow! Maybe I'll bundle up later and go outside. I could build a snowman or make a rather chubby snow angel. If I get ambitious, I could even take the sled down to the park and slide down the hill. Maybe my grandsons would like to join me. It sounds like fun . . . but no, I think I'll just make myself another cup of tea and watch the snowflakes fall. 

Today, the memories of my adventures are enough.

(written last year for Elder-Zone magazine)

Confessions of a 1970's Feminist

The “Intimate Apparel” section of the department store is an interesting place. I was shocked the other day when we arrived at this part of our shopping trip. I had no idea there were so many different kinds of underwear, bras, socks, and pajamas. One can hardly call them by those ordinary words. In fact, the store has much more creative names for these articles of clothing. In the underwear section they had bikinis, panties, thongs, high cut briefs, French cut briefs, and boxers. 

I visit this section now and then to pick up my bag of economy plain white cotton briefs. I know where to find them and I don't look at anything else. That's enough. 

It's different when I come with my daughter, however. She wants to see what the store has and decide what to buy based on what her girlfriends have told her. She buys her own underwear and bras and is fully capable of doing it without my help. 

This was good because I have never had a positive relationship with bras. From the very beginning, when my sister and cousin decided that, at 12 years old, I was long overdue for a training bra, and they tackled me and shoved me onto the bed and put the blasted thing on me, I have had a hate/hate relationship with them. 

Why, you ask me? When I was in high school, the only place I had straight A's was in my bra size. My mother used to tell me, often, that I could play ball in the middle of the street without my shirt on and no one would notice. When you're small in that area, bras are uncomfortable. They don't make a bra that fits me well. Not so, my daughter informs me. I just haven't found the right one.

Right. I calmly informed her that I was raised in the '60s and '70s when women protested so that other women would have the right to not wear bras. Besides, my breasts were perfectly well behaved and I saw no reason to have to put them in a harness. They weren't going anywhere, were they?

She rolled her eyes at me. She didn't say anything because she was busy looking at the rack of items with names such as “Dream Lift” and “Moving Comfort.”

I didn't have anything else to do, so I started looking at them, too. For years, I had it easy. The styles I grew up with were made for the bra-less. I wore overalls and baggy t-shirts most of the time. I wore loose jumpers over t-shirts or turtle-necks as a kindergarten teacher for so many years. I had been lucky. 

The styles today aren't so friendly. They're more form fitting and the form they are meant to fit is not mine. I had to admit that my breasts, like the rest of me, were migrating downward and perhaps it was time to do something about it, if I ever wanted to wear nice clothes that were of the style from this decade. I decided I would just check and see if maybe they had started manufacturing anything in a size that fit me comfortably. If, and that was a big if, they did, I might decide to buy one, just one, in case I needed to go some place where I was expected to dress up. 

My daughter didn't say anything, but I could tell she approved. She helped me choose several different styles and sizes. When I tried them on, she stood just outside the dressing room so she could give me advice. 

I tried on several without success. I figured I had proved my point. Instead of agreeing with me, she reiterated her point that I had just not found the right size. She directed me to the next samples to try on. Though I hate to admit it, she was right. 

Forty-some years after my sister and cousin had forced me to put on my first “training” bra, I now wore a size that was more in line with the actual grades I received in school. I put my shirt on over it and stepped outside to let the expert give her opinion.

“Nice,” she said, “it gives you a little more... a little more... oomph.” 

I bought it. I guess at my age, a little more oomph sounded like a good thing. 

© 2011 Terri Reinhart