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21 March 2010

Little Memories

We do not remember days; we remember moments.
~Cesare Pavese

Sometimes the littlest memories are the best ones, the ones I reflect upon the most.  The ones that make me feel nostalgic and all warm and fuzzy.  A lot of mine have to do with the weather.

Summers in Idaho were hot and air conditioning was not a luxury in those days.  So you had to trick the weather.  As the days grew hotter, the mountain air almost always grew cooler.  The minute the sun would set, my dad would make his way around the house to open all the windows - all 18 of them.  I'd be sitting in my room watching TV and could hear the windows open one by one.  Soon the cool night air was rolling in and we could finally breathe easy falling into a sweet slumber.  Sometime early, just as the sun was waking up, I would hear the windows sliding shut, one by one.  Then the curtains being closed tight, not to let a speck of sun in.  That was how we  tricked the weather.  It was also at that time that we'd go out with our parents to hunt tomatoe worms in the garden.  We'd flick them off into buckets and dispose of those ruiners of home grown tomatoes. 

In the mornings the house was so cool, we forgot that the day before we were roasting, begging to take turns sitting in the fridge.  Wrapping blankets around us, shivering, we began our days.  But once the sun rose onto the parched Idaho neighborhoods, we began to sweat.  And with us girls going in and out all day, little by little our house became stiflingly warm.   No wonder my dad would say, shut the door fast, you're letting all the cool air out.  Those summers, day after day, night after night, the climate in our house changed drastically and kept us in comfort as we slept through cool nights.  But every summer without fail, there would come those days that were so hot, that so baked the land, that even the nights did not cool.   With all the windows open, the coolest place to be was in the basement and there we'd tread with our sleeping bags and pillows.  The whole family camped out , hoping to try to cool off just enough to get a little sleep.  Lazy days of mid summer.  I liked those best.  I still do.

Winters in Idaho were cold and snowy.  Thanksgiving seemed to signal winter and before we knew it we were blanketed in white.  Sometimes it snowed so much, my parents had to go shovel every hour - for in Idaho, snow was not an excuse to call in sick for work or stay home from school.  It was a way of life and you dug yourself out and got to where you needed to be.  Not to mention there was probably a snowplow for every street in every nook and cranny of the city. 

My favorite part was when it would snow and snow and snow and snow because as the snow accumulated, huge,  menacing snow drifts would form, looming haphazardly over the roof of our front porch.  We had to be really careful walking out the front door, shutting the door softly so as not to disturb it.  It would be there for sometimes for days.  Sometimes we'd knock it down but I think it fascinated all of us, even my parents.  If the drift didn't fall, then as the snow would begin to melt, the biggest and baddest icicles would begin to form from it's edges.  Now that was where the true fun began.  It was a challenge to see try to knock them all down.  Some were dainty and broke easily with a touch.  Others were as big, as solid and as pointed as the dagger of a giant.  

I also loved that in the winter we never ran out of snow.  There was a fresh supply daily, meaning we could build families of snowmen, form slides down the sloping front lawn, craft igloos and watch our snow angels disappear in the blizzard.  Evenings we spent thawing out by the crackling warm fire mom and dad had made - and we'd sleep upstairs because that was where it was warmest!

The four seasons were extreme in Idaho, each one with their very own identity.  Those dependable changes in weather, always signaled changes in our family.  In spring, we'd break out the boxes of summer clothes and pack our winter ones away.  Mom's big bed of red tulips would fill the backyard with a red royal carpet and work out in the garden and yard would begin.  There would be a sense of thrill in the air.  Nights were shorter in the winter and we'd spend them lost in long books, talking on the phones to friends, sitting by a fire and eating nachos that my mom prepared for evening snacks each night.  Fall was always where we did the most preparation - school clothes, raking leaves, registering for classes, harvesting the garden and celebrating all the birthdays - for most of my family (excluding me) were all born in August and September.   It's almost as if remembering all of this is my specail way of holding onto the things I cherish, the things I am, and the things I never ever want to lose.  

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