Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Winter Coasting Fun

Winters were cold in the Bear Lake Valley where we grew up, but that did very little to deter us from having a good time.  This was especially true as the sun rose higher in the winter sky during February and March.  I remember getting  new Flexible flyer sled like the ones pictured below for Christmas.  I was so excited.  Usually in March the sun would be warm enough during the daytime to thaw the snow a little on top.  The after the sun went down and through the night the temperatures would drop to below zero freezing a  thick crust on the snow that still covered the fields.  It was on mornings like this that we would take our sleds and walk on the crusted snow for a couple or three miles up to the Long Ridge, which was located to the west of Lanark.  Once we got up the hill to the desired point we mounted our sleds and away we flew, ever faster, weaving back and forth over this frozen sledders paradise.  We could make it from the top of the ridge, across the snow covered fences almost down to the Lanark Road before the sleds would finally come to a slow halt.  This was so much fun, I even remember thinking to myself that this was my favorite time of the year.  When I grew older , I switched to cross country skis and made similar journeys into the snowy landscape, especially on the full moon night in March.  I shall never forget the feelings of flying across the snowy crusted fields and then in later years the awesome starry silence as I crossed the fields and hills with the full moon shining so brightly on the snow covered hills, with the only sounds being that of my breath, the shuffle of the skis going over the snow, and later the sound of my faithful canine friend, River, panting heavily as he ran  along beside me.

by Bart

Thursday, January 12, 2012

It's Cold Out There

We've had a few rather cold days lately, nothing like some I remember from my youth though. The picture below reminds me of the place where picked up our mail.  There were four mail boxes, one was ours, one was Uncle Harlan's, one was John Roberts', and the other one was Earl Findlay's, our neighbors. They were located on the corner where Uncle Harlan and his family lived.

 Long before A Christmas Story, the movie, or Dumb and Dumber  were released, sticking our tongues to frozen poles or mail boxes was something many kids in the cold Bear Lake Valley did and, with no disrespect to the movie, none of them cried!  I do remember one time when we were all waiting for the school bus over by Uncle Harlan's corner, Ellis decided to show us how brave he was. He stuck his tongue on the frozen mailbox and just then the bus arrived.  It's a wonder he made it to school that day.  I've always appreciated  and looked up to my big brother, Ellis, but fortunately I didn't follow in every one of his foot steps.  The picture below is not Ellis, you'll get the picture though.  I must admit I had visions of him still stuck to the mailbox when the bus brought us home from school that afternoon.  It was not to be.  He rescued himself in the nick of time.  He probably left a little meat on the pole, but he made it to school.

I remember several very severe cold spells.  One of them happened the winter after I came home from my mission.  Reed was a senior in High School.  Dad and Mom had decided to take the train down to Waco, Texas where Ellis was stationed in the Air Force and where he and his family lived.  Reed and Mark were left to take care of the chores.  Though it was in March a severe cold front moved in.  The temperatures dropped to about 40 degrees below zero.   I came home from college to help with the chores that particular weekend.  After the milking was done I went down to the slough to chop a hole in the ice so that the cows could get a drink of water.  That was a common practice.  The spot where the drinking hole was must have been fed by a small underground spring or seep because it usually didn't have a heavy coat of ice on it.  Sadly this time one of the cows walked out a little to far and fell through the ice.  It wasn't many minutes before we and she were fighting for her life.  We hurriedly got the tractor and a chain and tried to pull her out.  Things didn't go well.  Finally, we did get her out of the water, but in a very short time the cow had died.  In that extreme temperature and wet there was not a chance.  She died and there was not a thing we could do about it.  We were very discouraged and were concerned about the loss of one of the best milk cows in the herd,  When Dad and Mom got home, they were of course saddened by the loss, but were grateful it wasn't even worse.  Farming and especially dealing with livestock in such a cold climate was a difficult undertaking.  After a time it seemed to harden a person in a certain way, so that we learned to shrug it off and go on hoping for a  better day.
I think it was experiences and pictures like this that gave me such a deep appreciation for a roaring fire in the stove, which we enjoyed for so many years.

Posted by Bart

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bear Lakers

This winter has been rather mild here in Logan  as it has for much of the Inter mountain West, though I do recall Reed telling me that he had spent hours shoveling the deep snow at his place in Fish Haven/ Bear Lake West earlier in the winter.  We had some snow here as well at that time, but what was here about six inches was more than sixteen at his house.  Since then the snow has melted and we have received only small off and on snow fall since then.  I suppose it's because of the long snow winters that so many of my early memories are associated with snow, and snow storms.  I think I have told a few snow happenings in this blog before and will try not to repeat myself.  What got me thinking about snow and growing up in Bear Lake Valley with it's notorious Bear Lakers was a photograph I found on the web a while back.  It was taken in 2004 and shows what then remained of the old Lyman A. Hymas barns in Liberty and the surrounding countryside.  Iris and I lived in the house there for three years when we first moved back to Bear Lake.  Well do we remember the fierce snow storm of that first winter back in the Valley.  I remember going out in the back porch one morning with a yard stick to measure the newly fallen snow from the previous twenty four hours.  The yard stick wouldn't quite do it.  I estimated it came up about three inches short.  These thirty nine inches came in just one snow storm which  lasted over a couple of days.  It was mostly quote a powdery snow.  The next day the wind began to blow and it blew for three straight days.  Schools were closed and everything but the very most essential activity out of doors came to a halt.  We didn't see another soul for three days.  It took another two or three days to get the roads cleared and traffic moving about again.  The good thing about it was that the lights, at least where we were didn't go out and we had plenty of food and fuel to keep us full and warm.  When it was all over, I went out and spent a couple of days shoveling the car out of the snow drifts and a pathway from the house out to the mail box.  I well remember shoveling snow from the path and throwing it in a bank  on either side that was well over my head.  I remember other storms similar to this one, but not since that time.  Needless to say, we were grateful that no one was hurt, lost or made to suffer unduly from this and other Bear Lakers experience while we lived in the Bear Lake Valley. The picture below is just a reminder of those days and that it could happen again.  There is nonetheless a sort of majesty to the snowy landscape left by these winter storms.

By Bart