While I love the beautiful snow globe scenes that bombard the internet every Winter, I also see in them, the freezing cold temperatures that must always accompany the real-life version. Some people like my sister, Cheryl Masterson and my granddaughter, Shai Royce love most of what Winter brings, snow and cold, but even they don’t like the pounding wind and sun-zero temperatures…or the terrible driving conditions that come along with them. I honestly don’t think any sane person would say they “like” the wind and sub-zero temperatures.
To say that I don’t love a good snowy scene, would be a lie, so I won’t say that. I love looking at winter scenes of all kinds. From the pictures people take and post, to the snow scene “gifs” that are most prevalent at Christmas, I love them all. Nevertheless, from my point of view, my placement in those pictures, is inside the house that is often shown, with a nice cup of hot chocolate and a warm cozy fire in the fireplace. Looking from the inside out on a Winter scene is the best place to be.
I keep asking myself this year, just what it is that places me in the category of the Winter Weary, because we really have had a mild Winter. Still, that week of sub-zero temperatures, and the day of that cold wind, are enough to make me weary from day one. Then, we get our “Annual January Thaw” that comes right before that slap of Winter saying, “And….we’re back!!” that gets me every time!! These past few days of highs in the low 50° temperatures have been absolutely lovely. They would be even better, if they didn’t have to be accompanied by 30 mile per hour winds. Then, just in time for Groundhog Day, the temperatures are going to begin the decent into the 30° range again. Just Yucky!
I admit it, I am a Summer person!! That is my happy place, with Spring and Fall as close seconds, provided they don’t decide to be a snowy Spring or Fall, and that isn’t exactly the case most of the time. The way I see it, Winter around here lasts about nine months, and the rest of the seasons get to split the rest of the year. I think it is just very rude to let us have that “Annual January Thaw” each year, knowing that after that week, reality will be right back, and the Winter winds, and sub-zero temperatures with look us in the face an just roar with laughter again. Nevertheless, fellow “Winter Weary” people, Spring is just 49 days away. Woo Hoo!!!
I am a summer girl, but I also like spring and fall, unless they try to act too much like winter. For the most part, I really don’t like winter at all. In Wyoming, winter means cold, wind, and snow…all dirty four-letter words, if you ask me. Nevertheless, I am not opposed to the time change, like many other people are. For me, the “Spring back” part of the change, which gives an extra hour of light in the early morning is very nice, because I love to go walk in the early morning, and as the darker days ascend on us, I can no longer head out to walk at 6:30 in the morning, because it is too dark. I much wait until later in the day to try for a walk on the path near my house…if the four-letter word, wind doesn’t rear its ugly head, that is.
Oh, I know many people don’t agree, because they are now feeling like the evening comes far too soon, and they don’t like driving home from work in the dark. As my daughter, Amy Royce said when we were discussing the time change (she’s not a fan), and I pointed out the light early mornings to her, “Hahaha!! It’s six of one or half a dozen of the other!!” Yes, that is true, but for me, the fact that I’m retired, and don’t have to drive home in the dark, it doesn’t really matter…most of the time.
This morning, however, it mattered. This morning was a balmy 51° with only eight mile per hour winds. That coupled with the fact that the time change made it light at 6:30, meant that my walk was on. It was what I would call a November Gift. The sky was gray, and that isn’t my favorite sky color, but I can deal with that. It tried to act like it was going to rain, but only accomplished a few little sprinkles, so I kept going. I prefer the warm, early morning summer days, but November does hide another good thing…the bugs are gone. In the summer I need bug repellant, and now I don’t. Of course, if there was a rogue bug out there, he couldn’t find my skin…except for my face, so it’s a wash. I will always prefer late spring and summer to late fall and winter, but I’m not one to let a good gift go to waste either. Having a morning in November with perfect walking conditions is a rare thing indeed, and I quickly got going and headed out to enjoy that November Gift.
Normally, on this first day of Summer, I would be thinking about the days coming up, the precious few days when I finally get to feel the warmth that doesn’t come from being wrapped in a blanket or wearing a coat. Yes, Summer can be sweltering, and I can find myself wishing for a little cooler temperature, but I don’t want it to be much cooler. I am a summer person. I like heat. I like wearing shorts and sandals, rather than sweaters and coats.
This year is a rather odd year…not that we haven’t had years of unusual weather…and no, I don’t buy into the whole global warming, climate change, or whatever they are calling it these days. Weather had natural patterns that have existed since time began, and this is nothing new. Nevertheless, when we have one of those years of an unusually cold Spring, and unusually harsh Winter, and somehow a fairly normal Fall, I find myself waiting for normalcy, impatiently!!
This has been one of those years, and I’m ready for the end of Spring. Our Winter was harsh, with lots of snow and this Spring has been full of thunderstorms and pouring rain…to the point of flash flooding and lots of warnings for lightning, hail, tornadoes, and floods. Those things aren’t all that unusual, with the possible exception of the floods, but the thing I really noticed was the cold temperatures. Normally as we approach the end of June, I am wearing shorts and t-shirts when I go out for my early morning walk. This year, however, I have been wearing pants and a jacket to keep me warm. Of course, by the time I am almost finished, I’m warm enough to go without a jacket…except for the clouds. Clouds just keep things cooler.
As I was walking these past few mornings, I thought about just how much cooler it had been this Spring, and I hoped that as the Summer arrived, it would finally begin to warm up. I also thought about another Summer about 20 years ago or so. The Spring had been cold that year too, and Summer hadn’t improved much. In fact, it was the coldest Summer I had ever remembered. Infact, it was as if Summer never arrived that year. That makes for the feeling of a long cold Winter, even though there were some warm days. The good thing about the colder rainy weather, however, was that the grass, and several other things grew better that they had in years. I guess that’s a plus, but if you don’t mind, I’ll take the warmer weather, with the leaves on the trees and the deer by the trail. Those things make my whole day.
Every year, maybe simply because Winter can be so depressing, just a little way into Spring, we have a day for fun. If you didn’t know, the day is called April Fool’s Day. Some like the day, others kind of hate it, and some don’t care one way or the other. Still, I think most people give the day a try, at least. As a kid, we tried to pull off the best prank ever, but depending on our age at the time, we often failed miserably. You can only tell someone there is a spider on their head so many times on April Fool’s Day, before they simply stop believing your story.
My parents, Al and Collene Spencer, were pretty good at April Fool’s Day pranks. I remember putting sugar on chicken and salt on cereal. I suppose some people would get upset about that, but we all had a good sense of humor, and found it to be a good laugh. Of course, there are hundreds of other pranks that can be played on people, and some of them are very elaborate. I guess it just depends on the level of imagination you have, and how far you are willing to play your prank out. For some people, April Fool’s Day just isn’t enough, and they become Bonafide Pranksters, ready to prank their next victim at any given moment. Their pranks might happen at any time on any day, which can also be very funny.
April Fool’s Day has always seemed to me as the real beginning of Spring, even though Spring officially begins on March 20th, the weather then is usually so windy and cold here in Wyoming, that I just don’t really think much about Spring until April Fool’s Day. Then, there is usually more chance of temperatures in at least the 40s, so I can actually envision Spring flowers. Whether I choose to play any pranks or not, doesn’t matter as much to me as the distinct prospect of the coming Spring. I am more of a late Spring or Summer girl, but if it’s a choice of Winter or Spring, I’ll take Spring every time…and I truly love Spring flowers.
If you decide to prank, I hope you are successful in your pranks, without anyone getting mad at you. And if you don’t decide to prank, well sometimes it’s more fun to watch other people get pranked, as long as no one notices that you are sitting quietly by without a prank in sight, because if they notice you, you are very likely is big trouble. Happy April Fool’s Day everyone. Have fun!!
The first official Groundhog Day celebration in the United States took place on February 2, 1887, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, but it had its roots in Germany and was brought to the United States as a German tradition. It may have had other connotations to some people, but for most of us, it’s just a fun way to break the monotony of Winter, by guessing how much longer it will last. It is my guess that old Punxsutawney Phil is wrong about the prediction as often as he is right about it.
Since, my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s grandma, Vina Hein was born of Groundhog’s Day, the day has always been a little bit of a fun day for her. Of course, I suppose the level of “fun” would depend on the prediction for that year, and whether or not she liked Winter, which I don’t believe she did…as an adult anyway. Montana winters can be harsh, and Grandma even had to have her daughter Esther Hein live with her son, Walt Schulenberg, and his wife Joann during the winter, so she could be able to get to school more regularly. So, I’m sure she…like most of us, preferred an early Spring prediction, not that the prediction mattered much anyway. After all, what could she do if old Punxsutawney Phil guessed wrong? The same thing we can do today…nothing.
Grandma Hein stayed busy all year long. Between canning in the summer, cleaning, cooking and baking, as well as helping out with the garden and the animals on the ranch, life could sometimes be pretty fast paced. She also raised five children, two from her first marriage, Marion and Walt Schulenberg, and three from her second marriage, Esther, Eddie, and Butch Hein. A ranch, a husband, and five kids can keep a person very busy. Nevertheless, even with the hard work and distance from town, Grandma was happy in her life…most of the time. Having an outhouse wasn’t the easiest thing, but they had one the whole time they lived on the ranch. Grandpa did put one in the house later on, but they only used it in the winter. I’ll never forget using that outhouse. It was like living in a backwoods campground. Still, I loved going to visit Grandma and Grandpa Hein.
Today marks the 114th anniversary of Grandma Hein’s birth. She has been in Heaven a long time now of course, and I’m sure that the Winter on Earth makes no difference to her. Nevertheless, for any of you that do care, old Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today, so there will supposedly be six more weeks of Winter. My guess is that old Phil does better with his predicting when he sees his shadow than when he doesn’t. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandma Hein. We love and miss you very much.
Depending on who you talk to, you will hear a variety of thoughts on Christmas, from it being a pagan holiday to it being a Christian holiday, to Jesus being born in the spring…which is interesting to me, because my nephew, Barry Schulenberg celebrated his December 11th birthday on June 11 for a long time so that it wasn’t so close to Christmas…thereby spreading his gift receiving out over the year. Noe a bad idea. Really, my point is that the time of year really doesn’t matter. It is the fact that you are celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior. I don’t think He cares, one way or the other, if we have the date wrong. Birthdays are often celebrated on a day other than the actual day…and Christmas has also been celebrated on a day other than the 25th of December, due to work schedules, illness, and distance.
The point is that Christmas…on whatever day it is celebrated…is the celebrate Jesus’ birth. Our Savior, the Son of God, the Word of the Trinity, took on flesh to become a human and gave up Heaven to come to Earth to die for us, that we might live in Heaven with Him and that we can become the Righteousness of God, even here on Earth. That is the reason we celebrate Jesus, and the reason we always will. People can call Christmas whatever they want to, but those of us who serve the Lord will always know exactly why Christmas is important. They can never take that away from us.
Jesus was the greatest gift God ever gave to the world, and that is why we give gifts to this day It is to remember the greatest gift ever given, because of a love that is beyond anything we can possibly imagine. If you want to really understand the love of your Heavenly, remember how much your parents love you, and then multiply it by infinity. That is the love of God. The Bible says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting Life.” God is Love, and He gave His Son for us. Praise God, Happy birthday Jesus, and Merry Christmas to all of you.
I think most people have played with a Slinky at one point or another in their lives. The Slinky is a pre-compressed helical spring toy invented by Richard James in the early 1940s. It is able to perform a number of tricks, including travelling down a flight of steps end-over-end as it stretches and re-forms itself with the aid of gravity and its own momentum, or appear to levitate for a period of time after it has been dropped. Kids have been known to spend hours playing with the simple spring, which rather defies the imagination in itself. Most kids tire easily of toys, so the long lasting play with a slinky was surprising. Still, as with all such toys, the Slinky eventually lost its draw, and few people play with it now.
The strangest thing about the Slinky is that it wasn’t invented to be a toy at all. In 1943, a naval mechanical engineer named Richard James, who was stationed at the William Cramp and Sons shipyards in Philadelphia, was developing springs that could support and stabilize sensitive instruments aboard ships in rough seas. As he worked, James accidentally knocked one of the springs from a shelf, and watched as the spring “stepped” in a series of arcs to a stack of books, to a tabletop, and to the floor, where it re-coiled itself and stood upright. I’m sure the sight was funny, mostly because it was so unexpected. As his wife Betty later recalled, “He came home and said, ‘I think if I got the right property of steel and the right tension; I could make it walk.'” As with any inventor, I’m sure that his inventor’s mind was already clicking. James began to experiment with different types of steel wire over the next year, and finally found a spring that would walk. I’m sure he was like “a kid in a candy store” with each fine-tuning of the toy. Betty was skeptical at first, but changed her mind after the toy was fine-tuned and neighborhood children expressed an excited interest in it. She dubbed the toy Slinky, by which she meant “sleek and graceful,” after finding the word in a dictionary, Betty decided that this word exactly described the sound of a metal spring expanding and collapsing.
The couple formed James Spring and Wire Company, which was later renamed James Industries, using just a $500 loan. They had 400 Slinky units made by a local machine shop, hand-wrapped each in yellow paper, and priced them at $1 a piece. Each was 2½ inches tall, and included 98 coils of high-grade blue-black Swedish steel. At first, the James couple had difficulty selling Slinky to toy stores but, then in November 1945, they were granted permission to set up an inclined plane in the toy section of Gimbels department store in Philadelphia to demonstrate the toy. Finally, the Slinky was a hit, and the first 400 units were sold within ninety minutes. In 1946, Slinky was introduced at the American Toy Fair. The Slinky was without doubt a huge success, yet in it’s humble beginnings, it was an accident.
There is an old saying, “If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb.” If that’s the case, then one must assume that the opposite is also true. And in the case of March, 2016…the opposite would definitely be the case. Bob and I were married on March first, and so we go to Thermopolis around that time to celebrate our anniversary. This year was absolutely beautiful!! It was warm with no snow, and our quiet little walks were just lovely. The groundhog had predicted an early Spring this year…and unusual prediction for him, so I was feeling very optimistic about the remainder of the Winter…or the lack thereof. Now it’s not that I’m superstitious, and I don’t believe that these predictions are superstition anyway, but rather God’s way of showing us little signs of His plans for the future. He tells the animals things that humans just don’t hear, like telling the geese when to fly south or to head north. We humans have somehow become so scientific that we fail to listen to the signs from God.
Of course, the scientists would say that they are able to predict the weather too, and perhaps they do listen to the signs of God, whether they admit that is what they are doing or not. Still, I find it odd that things like the groundhog not seeing his shadow on February 2nd, or the way March makes it’s annual entrance, can have such an impact of the weather over the next month or so, but they do nevertheless. One thing that many of us have come to look for is the time when the geese fly south. If they head out early, we have a pretty good idea that Winter will soon follow, but if the stay around into late fall, things could be very different for the Winter. They simply have been told that there is no hurry to leave. It is maybe the one sign from God that we humans have noticed over the years.
Be that as it may, we have arrived at the end of March in Wyoming. Enter Winter Storm Troy!! This Winter has been a relatively easy one, even though, the snow that fell in mid-December, didn’t leave the streets until mid-February. Nevertheless, I am pretty much over Winter after the first snow of the season, so I was looking forward to an early Spring. Now, with the end of March upon us, it decides to follow the old saying, and go out like a lion…since it came in like a lamb. That said, we are sitting here in Wyoming with about sixteen inches of snow on the ground, many businesses closed, and schools that would be…were it not for Spring Break. This storm is not supposed to hang around very long, but those unfortunate people in its path could get anywhere from 1″ to 47″ of the white stuff. I certainly hope we are not on the 47″ end of that scale. The snow is expected to continue through tonight and finally heading out around 6pm tomorrow. After that, look out, because when the temperatures heat up to the low fifties by Sunday, all this snow is going to melt, and become…a whole lot of water. I guess that is the April Fools Day joke in all of this weather prediction process.
Every year, I dread the beginning of winter. It doesn’t matter how late it starts, I still wish it was over the minute it begins. I know that many people would say, why do you live where you do, and to that I say…it is where I have always lived…or at least since I was three years old. Before that, up until I was three years old, I lived in Superior, Wisconsin, and I must say that the weather there would have been worse than the winters here, so I have moved to a better place…sort of. Don’t get me wrong…I love Wyoming. It is my home, and in the fall, spring, and summer, I am perfectly happy here. I would just love to eliminate winter all together. I can’t say that I always felt that way about winter, because as a kid, I probably didn’t. I think our parents had no trouble getting my sisters and me to go outside and make snowmen, or snow angels, or build a fort and have a snowball fight. It’s what kids do. In reality it seems like winter bothers us more and more, the older we get. Even my sister, Cheryl Masterson, who loves winter, really has no true desire to be out in it. She likes the beauty of it and the coolness of the air, but shoveling snow or driving in snow…not so much.
I guess it is a good thing that our lives have seasons too, because if they didn’t, I doubt if anyone would ever do those fun things that kids do in winter. If we all felt the way I do about winter right now, I suppose we would move to a different place every six months or so. That, of course is the snowbird stage of life, except that it would be something that happened much more often, and that is what I would be, were it not for my obligations here. For me, there is a love/hate relationship with the changing seasons. When spring rolls around, I will start to feel alive again, just like the flowers, trees, and birds. My heart sings as the warmer weather approaches, and I feel like hibernating during the colder months. The odd thing too, is that I love winter scenes…in pictures, but in reality, I have no desire to be there…just to look, and then to go out in the warm summer weather I truly love.
Perhaps I need to consider what the difference was when I was a child, and I really did like going out into the snowy weather. Was it that I didn’t mind the cold, or that I didn’t mind dressing for it? Is it that I have forgotten how to play? Probably, that is it. In fact the last time I can say that I really played was when my grandchildren were little. I think it would be great if I could travel back in time those 15 or so years to when I would gladly have gone out in the snow with my grandchildren, because…well, I would do just about anything for them. I suppose that even then I can’t say I loved the cold, but I did have a great time playing with those grandchildren…even if it was cold. I can’t go back in time, so here I am at the beginning of another winter. The snow has arrived, the cold is here…and so it begins.
Sixty six years ago, when the bitterly cold winter of 1949 was finally over and spring had finally arrived, my mother-in-law, Joann Knox was a young girl of eighteen, and she was in love. She had known her future husband and the love of her life, Walter Schulenberg, all her life. Still, knowing him didn’t mean they were always in love, or even that they liked each other. Little kids can be friends with someone, and then when they get older, things change. Then, as was the case with my in-laws, things can change again. That annoying teenaged boy or girl suddenly takes on a new look to you. Suddenly, the time is right, and they both wonder why they didn’t see this person this way before. That’s how it was for my in-laws. Grandma Knox, Joann’s mom told me once that after they got older, Mom didn’t like Dad one bit. I would guess that was probably in his bratty adolescent years, when most boys are awkward around girls…especially if they like them at all.
As the years went by, Walt and Joann moved in different circles, and didn’t really see each other very much, but then one day, he noticed her again. My mother-in-law wasn’t too sure how she felt about his new found interest in her, as she still thought of him as a bit of an annoying boy, but if you knew my father-in-law at all, you would know that he had a winning personality, and it was really hard not to like him. That is what my mother-in-law found too. Before long, they were an item. First meeting them after many years of marriage, and meeting them is a more reserved situation…for my mother-in-law at least, I never saw the love struck side of their early relationship. I don’t think their kids really did either. Their love letters, written during the times he was working one place and she another, were tender and sweet. It was such a surprise to see those letters, because they just never seemed to me to be the googly eyed kind of couple, and yet, here in their letters, they were.
As time passed, their future plans began to grow, and when Joann graduated, they decided to be married. Like their granddaughter, Corrie Petersen, my daughter, they didn’t wait very long after graduation. The wedding took place on the 5th anniversary of D-Day, a fact that I seriously doubt that either of them gave a single thought to…at least not that year. Like many marriages of that time, it was a simple wedding…much like my own parents’ wedding just a few years later. My mother-in-law wore a simple peach colored dress and my father-in-law a suit. Nevertheless, it was for them the perfect day…the culmination of the many years of an on again, off again friendship, now turned to a forever kind of love. Today marks the 66th anniversary of that wedding day, and while my father-in-law has been gone now for two years, my mother-in-law is still alive, and since she does not realize that he is gone, we will still tell her happy anniversary…at the same time that we tell her that Dad is out in the garage working on a car, or at Walmart, or visiting the neighbors, because to tell her he is gone would be just too mean. Happy anniversary to my in-laws, Walt…in Heaven, and Joann, here on Earth. Have a wonderful day. We love you both very much.