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Around the Corner: Bringing back memories of yesteryear

Kyle Mills

Last week’s storm blew in a flurry of childhood memories for me, as I’m sure it did for many of you.

With the snow piling up outside of my Rifle home, the alerts of school activities being canceled, and closures for the next day — I couldn’t help but be reminded of the snow days of my youth.

Like Colorado, it really had to snow back home in Idaho to get a day off from school.

I can remember early in my life the massive amounts of snow we would get on the farm nestled next to one of the highest points in the county.

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And the best part of growing up in southern Idaho, all you needed was a foot or two of snow and little east wind. Before you knew it, all of the north/south roads were blown shut, and the school district had no choice but to cancel classes.

Unlike most of my friends who lived in town or just outside the city limits, we were never really snowed in thanks to my dad and the large farm equipment, heavy-duty 4-wheel-drive pickups, and the small fleet of snowmobiles.

After he was done digging out and towing all the neighbors or even a few strangers who thought it would be a good idea to go play in the snow, we would go have fun ourselves.

Each of us would usually get to choose a friend who my dad would either go pick up with his truck, one of the tractors or, sometimes, even one of the snowmobiles if they were close by.

An with the nearest neighbor more than a mile away, my brothers and I had plenty of property to roam.

With a surplus old tractor and truck inner tubes stacked in the shop, unlimited fun was just a few steps and a flick of a switch on the air compressor away.

Led by my dad — a kid at heart — we would grab enough rope to tie the tubes securely to a snowmobile and scramble to jump on as my dad fired up the engine.

If you have never been side-by-side on a large inner tube or a series of them with family and friends, pulled by a souped-up snowmobile, you have yet to experience one of the true joys — and terrors for some — of life.

Like the crack of a whip, my dad would sling us around behind the back of one of the old John Deere snowmobiles or later the souped-up Polaris snowmobile. We’d go skipping across the little snowdrifts that formed from the pristine white snow covering the farm ground as far as the eye could see.

I can picture our smiles stretching from ear to ear, but none were bigger than my dad’s as he turned around to check on us from time to time — making sure we were all still along for the ride.

My brothers and I never lacked friends who wanted to spend time on the farm during snow days. You could say there was a line as long as a country mile.

The first visit usually meant you were in the middle near the center of the tube — the black hole as I like to call it because it tended to swallow up a person or two every now and then.

I’ll never forget the time it was my three brothers and I and our grandpa (my dad’s dad) all piled on one inner tube.

My dad had to have had that snowmobile throttle wide open; the wind was nipping at our exposed cheeks as we sailed across the open field.

Being the youngest and smallest, I somehow got stuck near the middle. All I remember is getting sucked into the black hole and the tube running over my small body compacting it into the soft snow.

As I came up gasping for air, spitting out snow, all I could see were my brothers and my grandpa flying through the air as they lost contact with the large inner tube.

It was a yard sale of gloves, stocking caps and a few solo moon boots that had lost their owners.

My dad made sure all of us were OK, laughing so hard he nearly fell off the snowmobile. Once we all caught our breath we joined in, laughing at one another — even my grumpy grandpa smiled and chuckled about it.

Wherever I am and no matter how old I get, when a heavy snowfall comes through I will always remember those snow days many years ago and look back with a smile and a laugh.

It’s a miracle my brothers and I survived.

kmills@postindependent


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