Mail Boxes and Old Barns – Sunday Open Forum
Well. I promised last Sunday I would fill you in regarding unheated second floor bedrooms with light snow cover on the blankets in the morning, frozen rabbit turd collections in wheelbarrows, shotguns in the moonlight and kittens in the barn.
Unheated second floor bedrooms with light snow cover on the blankets in the morning: It’s true. We had heavy storm windows for all 20 or so windows of the house that were installed each fall and removed each spring. So we had proper “protection” against winter storms. However, if a blizzard with 40-50 mph winds spent 7-8 hours working the house over through the night, that sifty, sandy snow surely did work its way through the unsealed corners of old windows. In the morning, there might be a very thin “sand dune” trail of frozen snow across #13 of the 13 blankets on the bed. So why unheated bedrooms upstairs? Tightwad Dad? Nope. Not enough money to buy enough coal to heat the upstairs all day and night? Nope. Just common sense, actually. The coal furnace was banked and pretty much shut down at night. The main floor would stay halfways comfortable, so that when my Dad fired things up in the morning, it would be warm in 30 minutes or so, but that was because it had been heated all day the day before. It made absolutely no sense to spend the energy and coal to heat the 3 upstairs bedrooms and hallway all day just to preserve the possibility for heating at night. We never thought a thing of it, although we learned when my Mother was in her 70′s that she was not happy with our laughter about the “snow on the blankets.” She denied it vociferously. Thus we learned that she wished the upstairs could have been heated better.
Frozen rabbit turd collections in wheelbarrows: When it’s 20 below and you want to play outside with your brother….the one truly entertaining thing you have plenty of is frozen rabbit pellets~~everywhere in the tree line that was carefully planted in the 1940′s to try to provide some shelter from those Montana winds. So you gather at least a couple hundred pellets. Why? Because then you can create a checkerboard outline of frozen rabbit turds and play checkers! Or you can draw pictures in the snow with the frozen rabbit turds serving as pen and ink. FRTs are very sterile and highly entertaining: found art is what it was.
Shotguns in the moonlight: The crunch of snow underfoot. I got the .22 and my brother carried the 4.10. We hunted rabbits in the bright, bright moonlight late at night across hundreds of acres of frozen prairie. Brilliant silhouettes of trees and buildings could be clearly seen. The stars were amazing. (Do not inquire about shooting rabbits. Actually seeing one was not even a possibility: white rabbits on white snow!! We hunted rabbits! With shotguns, in the moonlight, with crunching snow. It was rather wonderful.)
Kittens in the barn: My neighboring cousin and I had a running contest which was dependent on the mating habits of our cats. The contest was driven by the country conviction that any cat herd numbering less than 20 didn’t count for much on our farms. A three-dog-night can be handled by 15 cats just as well. When it’s bitter cold in January, let’s bundle up and head down to the barn. We make ourselves a spot in the hay, start gathering the cats around. I’ll sit there for 90 minutes, hunched over the pile of cats in my lap, scrunching their fur, talking to them…and not feeling bad for them at all when I left to go back to the house because they would just wrap themselves in one another’s paws and be very cozy. Then as I slid the big barn door shut behind me, even loving the stark starlit evening as I did, I ran like crazy for the house, only at that point somehow wondering if there was anything out there in the night that I should fear.
So that’s the deal….with the unheated second floor bedrooms with light snow cover on the blankets in the morning; the frozen rabbit turd collections in the wheelbarrow; the shotguns in the moonlight; and, the kittens in the barn.
Winters, summers, autumns and springs have their distinct memories in each part of the country. How cold did you ever get? What was the most kittens you ever had? What bizarre weather did you love?