By Sean Pearson
I am endlessly amazed by what people in Alaska come up with to keep themselves entertained in the wintertime. (O.K. So we’re not talkin’ jaw-dropping, head-spinning, awestruck amazed. I mean, it’s not like I see people out creating three-story ice castles or taming herds of wild moose.)
Still, it’s kinda cool to watch as people develop their own methods of fun on a frozen tundra of snow and ice. (I mean, once the snow starts falling and things start icing up … I’m not in any rush, mind you.)
Again, I must defer my ignorance on most things snow-related to my childhood of egrets and lizards in south Louisiana. Winter in the bayou was a cacophony of Cajun culture — an area that seemed to come alive as the rest of the country snoozed under a blanket of snow.
And once I learned how to properly eat crawfish, sort out the cool necklaces and doubloons at Mardi Gras parades and accurately pronounce names like Boudreaux and Thibodeaux, I found myself assimilating quite well into Acadian adventures.
Still, every year, amid 70-degree Decembers, I would ask my father if he thought it might snow. I don’t think he ever realized it was a serious question. I mean, I seemed intelligent enough; was getting decent grades in Miss Spell’s second-grade class, had finally learned to tell time, and checked out “Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates,” because it was the thickest book in the library.
I never made it past the first three pages, but I sure felt scholarly lugging around that behemoth book. Never mind that the sheer weight of it in my book bag left me staggering across the lunchroom trying to correct the imbalance in my inner ear. (And we didn’t have them fancy backpacks with padded straps and water-bottle holders. This was your standard-issue, no-frills, Captain Kangaroo book bag.)
In fact, I’m pretty sure it was the Hans Brinker incident that wreaked havoc on my back and dashed my prospect of playing professional football. If only I had gone with the Lambchop cuddly book bag. I’d probably be tearing things up right now in the NFL with Brett Favre and Peyton Manning.
Of course, this was also the time when PBS convinced moms that educational television could teach their preschoolers better than parents could. Romper Room hit the airwaves, and kids everywhere were worried about being a “do-bee” instead of a “don’t-bee.” Nothing like making a kid more neurotic than he already is.
I’ve often awakened in a cold sweat with visions of King Friday and Henrietta Pussycat chasing after me in the “Land of Make-Believe” on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Gotta wonder what old Fred was smokin’ mind when he came up a few of those. A mailman named Mr. McFeely? There’s no amount of sneakers and sweaters that will make that one go away.
Where were we? Ahhh yes, winter.
My mother hated the lack of snow in Louisiana — at first. She combated the gangrenous greenery that ganged up on her with hours and hours of Christmas carols, and every Andy Williams Christmas special she could get her hands on.
Yes, even in February.
I tried to help further her state of illusion by reliving the epic winter battle between Mr. Heat Miser and Mr. Snow Miser; I recalled to her how I shamefully watched as all the other reindeer laughed and called Rudolph names; I shared with her those special winter memories where I watched and wept in horror as Frosty melted into a pitiful puddle of permafrost. (What do you want from me? I was like 7 years old and it was a very tender moment.)
Now, for the long-awaited, often undelivered message hidden in these previous 560-some words:
So what if your kid spends hours re-creating a scene of interrogation techniques from the Spanish Inquisition in snow people? Or even splashing in the puddles of Homer’s ongoing land of slush. At least the kid is outside in the fresh air, getting a little exercise and obviously benefiting from all those Spanish channels you got in that Dish Network package.
Oh, did you think I was going to suggest joining your kids outside in getting a little exercise? Please. I’ve already located a great place to hide the remote, stashed various snacks throughout the house and settled in for a long haul of basketball in my hibernation headquarters.
It’s cold out there, you know?
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