Since I grew up on the east coast I’ll boast only for a moment that I feel lucky to have grown up with seasons: fall was fall, with its flurry of yellow and brown leaves and swirling winds; winter always meant a few snow flurries, and then a bunch of heavy duty snow storms, which meant a pretty good snow pack, roadside snow piles and slush along the side of the road where the snow plows shoveled the snow out of the way. And spring was a blaze of green grass and flowers. Of course summer brought an unbearable heat wave and humidity enough to melt your clothes onto your back.

For us kids, the winter weather was a delight and full of excitement; for my parents it was hell — having to shovel the car out of the snow banks, shoveling a path to the front door. On and on.

For me, the oncoming of fall in Washington D.C. was a wonderful thing. I could dig out my winter jacket and sweaters, wool socks and knit cap. My mom would pick through our family cedar trunk and fetch my furry gloves. I always loved that transition into fall as the air got chilly and mounds of leaves built up along the sidewalks.

For whatever reason, I loved using our snow shovel to chisel a path along the sidewalk right before my dad came home from his art teachings at Howard University. I thought he would enjoy the last leg of his walk home on a path cleared out by his son.

If you have not grown up where it snows, I have to tell you there is nothing like it. It creates a peace, a quiet, a tone like none other. Of course, as a child, I only saw the fun in it; for my parents and other adults in our neighborhood, it mostly meant hard work and worry: Would their car slide into another car and cause injuries, for starters?

As kids we made a little extra change offering our services to neighbors to shovel snow out of their walkways, driveways and around their cars. This was probably $2 for two or three of us. But then we could dash down to the Silver Springs movie theater and check out the latest James Bond movie (.50 cents) or the latest Disney movie (I recall “101 Dalmatians”).

These are some of the simple things I feel fortunate to have grown up with and still remember. I’ll never forget that feeling, at the start of winter, when I glimpsed out my bedroom window and saw that first sign of snow; it was like my world had been taken over. Our family would huddle around our old wood Motorola radio in the warm kitchen, with us kids just begging for the report that our school was closed for the day due to heavy snow; this meant a free day of playing.

Anyway, let’s welcome our fall and winter with open arms and appreciate the changing of the times.


Tarmo Hannula can be reached at [email protected] or 761-7330.

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