Portage River Farm

  (Pinckney, Michigan)
Notes on our struggles and successes on our family farm in rural Michigan.
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Woman Trapped By Snow Magic

I grew up on a sleepy street in a small town in southeastern Ohio. Our neighborhood had a motley collection of kids who were just a bit younger than me. We spent a great deal of time together and were always up to some kind of caper. Our imaginations ran wild with pretend games of all sorts and to us it seemed that anything was possible.

One wintry Sunday afternoon we hatched a scheme to force the schools to be closed on the following day. The weekend had seen a decent snow fall but the dreaded snow plows had long since cleared the roads. Some little genius among us reasoned that we should be able to reverse the work of the snowplow and render the roads impassible again.

After a brief huddle, we scattered in all directions to retrieve the necessary implements from our homes. Before long we had amassed a collection of shovels, buckets, hand trowels, sleds and a wheel barrow. We dove into our work with grim determination and the thrilling sense of doing something that would simply amaze and dismay the entire town when they awoke to find that everyone was going to get the day off!

We worked against the clock. We knew that the afternoon was getting long and soon our neighborhood would echo with the voices of our mothers leaning out of back doors and calling for us to come home for dinner. We shoveled and carried, pulled and dumped. Back and forth we went into the middle of the street as a small pile of snow grew there. Before we knew it, the time had expired. We shouted in response to our mother's calls that we would be there in "just a minute". We swore each other to secrecy and briefly made plans to meet up and play tomorrow during what was sure to be a Snow Day.

Of course we were sadly disappointed when our parents urged us to get up the next morning. Somehow, against all odds, the snow plow man had been alerted to our scheme and had come during the night to clear our street. In defiance of our brilliant plan, the Superintendent declared that the schools would indeed be open.

This past Sunday evening I was taking a break from the care of seedlings in the basement to watch some of the Olympic events on television. It was approaching the children's bedtime and I knew that I would have to tear myself away from the broadcast in order to tuck them in and read to them. It was then that I noticed excited whispering and the sounds of drawers being opened and closed in the kitchen. I rose to my feet and headed out of the room to investigate.

Entering the kitchen, I spied Freya and Aidan with spoons in their hands and wide grins on their faces. They were clearly up to something and I soon found that Freya was the ring leader. To my inquiries they responded that they were doing snow magic to cause school to be cancelled the next day.

They certainly weren't dressed to go outside and there wasn't a shovel or bucket in sight. I told them about our failed attempts at the same feat when I was a child and then I learned how much more sophisticated their approach was. Their technique involved three actions. They collected ice cubes from the kitchen and flushed them down the toilet. Next they each took a spoon, licked it and then placed it upside down under their pillows. Lastly, they put on their pajamas but wore them to bed inside out!

Unlike our much more direct approach, theirs seems to have worked! Upon waking the next morning I discovered that a massive snow had fallen during the night and that school had indeed been cancelled! They celebrated and congratulated themselves while I prepared myself for a long and difficult drive to work. There wasn't time enough to get my tractor out to clear the way, so I got out the best I could and headed off through the blizzard.

The snow kept falling throughout the morning. After a few hours I heard from Janet that it had accumulated so much that she could not get her small car out. She and the children were snowed in for the day and the kids were having a ball playing outdoors.

I spent the evening on the tractor shoving huge piles of snow out of the way. I mused to myself about our long-ago childhood efforts to cover the road. I can't imagine that we even created a pile big enough to have been noticed by anyone and yet we believed so fervently that it would work. It was nice to remember a time when great feats seemed so easily attained. I smiled to myself and thought how glad I am to know that my own children have been able to share in that point of view as well.
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