A Winter’s Tale

by Memoir Mentor on January 19, 2012

Shakespeare wrote one…a story he turned into a play he called A Winter’s Tale. I bet you have a few winter stories you could tell. Growing up in Southern California, I experienced few WINTER winters. However, I did spend some winters in Utah during my college years and learned what it was like to trudge through the snow to classes on frigid mornings. Later, after I married, I shivered through three Boston winters when my husband was in law school and believed I was getting frostbite every time I gripped my car’s steering wheel. Nevertheless, most of my childhood winters were primarily bathed in California sunshine.

I thought about this recently because I had lunch last week with a new friend who moved here from Utah. This is her first California winter, and when I joined her at the restaurant, she was wearing a wool sweater and slacks, even though the temperature outside was in the mid-80s, hot even for California standards. “I know I look ridiculous,” she said, when she greeted me, “but it’s January. I must wear my winter clothes.” From there we gabbed about the different ways each of us experienced winter during our childhoods.

I can’t think of too many stories from my past I would label specifically winter stories, because I always seem to think a winter story should involve snow. I have a vivid memories of what my brothers and I called “going to the snow,” the two or three occasions when my parents took us to the Angeles National Forest about an hour north of Los Angeles. These excursions always began with us rising before the sun did and pulling on our outer clothes over our pajamas–because we had no real snow clothes–and driving to Frazier Park. If it rained in the winter in Southern California, it likely snowed at Frazier Park, where the elevation was around 4700 feet. We kids loved those snow trips, sledding down the gentle slopes on cardboard squares, drinking hot chocolate from thermoses. We sometimes brought Kool Aid or Tang with us and sprinkled it on the snow. We thought we were pretty clever when we scooped it into cups and fashioned our very own snow cones. By midday, we drove home to the mild climate of Manhattan Beach, where we lived a few miles from the Pacific Ocean.

I have a number of winter stories related to my years in Utah and Boston that are specifically related to snowy weather–driving in scary, treacherous conditions, being snowed in, etc. One favorite sweet memory involves rushing to the hospital one snowy night in Boston four days before Christmas to give birth to our first child. We brought our baby son home in a Christmas stocking on Christmas Eve. A frightened new mother of 21, I walked into my apartment to discover my husband had bought and decorated a Christmas tree in my absence. That’s a story I definitely need to write.

Now, what about you? What winter tales do you have to tell? I’ve made a list of a few ideas to jog your memory a bit. When you get a moment this week, light the fireplace, don some comfy slippers, and make yourself a mug of hot chocolate—even if you do live in California—and let your mind drift back to a memory about…

  1. A time you were snowed in
  2. An accident you had in the snow
  3. Chores associated with winter
  4. Snow fun—skiing, sledding, ice skating, making a snowman or a snow fort
  5. Winter in a warm climate. What you like about it. What you dislike about it
  6. The winter blahs
  7. The clothing of winter. What you liked, what you didn’t. Snow suits, the sweater you had to have
  8. Winter cooking
  9. Mishaps due to the weather
  10. An important event that occurred during the winter
  11. Going to school in the snow
  12. Preparing the house or yard for winter

Good luck,
Memoir Mentor

PS: Those are my cute grandkids in the photos, in Park City, Utah, and that’s my dog Emma sniffing the shovel.