Wednesday

Snow...Piled On Top of the Dead

The winter of 1985 no one died that had an interest to be buried in the Rocklyn cemetery, so the road to this grave site was not plowed out. When spring failed to arrive, the county road plowers made up their minds to push the snow off of this well graded cemetery road. In the process they made snow banks taller than a four-wheel drive pickup. South Rocklyn easily won the snowfall title for that year. 

Good gosh, it was March! Not even the snow that was piled on top of the dead had melted enough to indicate that spring may come some day. While sitting on the tombstone of Frieda and Ed Mielke, I couldn’t help but think back to 1934, when spring arrived the first of February. We didn’t have guts enough to put in a crop that early, so on February 17th I started to summer fallow. Orlin Maurer had over a quarter plowed before February ended. 

When March came that year, wild flowers were at their peak. On March 25th, strips of winter wheat on the south slopes measured 22 inches high. One June 30th, Paul Jahn beat me getting the first load of wheat to the warehouse. What a wild and wooly year that was. Of course when nature leaves out winter, what can you expect? 

Since 1934, we had much more snow, and colder weather than this year, but it always ended decently when it came time for the snow to go. A person really has to go back to 1921 to find a winter as long as this one. That winter started out early too, and there was still plenty of snow covering the hills and dales on March 21st. 

In 1921, that long winter came as no surprise to neighbor Ben Hall. Before the snows set it, Ben killed a hog for meat eating purposes. In the process of disemboweling the animal, he found an extra long spleen around the liver somewhere, indicating an extra long and rough winter. 

Those ‘way out’ weather prophets are all gone now, and so is most of the home slaughtering. Times also have changed on how we put up with recent winters. 

Our houses are better insulated and heat works automatically by the turn of the dial. Powerful self-propel rigs make short work of moving snow from long stretches of country roads. Usually a day or two after a snow storm, we can make it to town to pick up some fresh fruit, and vegetables from California. 

Living through a winter now is a far cry from those real early settlers. Especially the ones that started frontier life in sod houses on the blizzard blown prairies of the Dakotas. Mother used to tell us how they would string a rope from their sod house to the barn. During a blinding snow storm, when chore time came, the only safe way of getting to the barn and back, was the hand-over-hand rope method. 

Anyway, it will soon be Easter. Maybe by then we will be able to see and smell lots of black wet ground. Easter used to be the time to put on your best ‘Sunday-go-meeting” clothes. Easter morning services gave women an excuse to put hats of every description on their heads. Entering the church without a pair of white gloves was frowned upon. 

Even the Easter Rabbit has changed her habits too. Dad told us that the Easter Bunny would come to our place, carrying all her Easter eggs in her tummy. Sister and I would line our boxes with straw to make them soft for Bunny’s posterior, and place them under the kitchen window. During the dead of night, the Easter Bunny would nestle down cozy-like, and lay lots of colored Easter eggs in our boxes. In some ways, in those days, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny had the same kind of working hours. 

"Spring Will Come" Kik-Back Country, p. 6 

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