More Winter Tales

Posted by Kitara Julian On 9:24 AM
“I don’t know if it was snowing for nine days when I was six, or six days when I was nine . . .”. Dylan Thomas’ “A Boy’s Christmas in Wales” always brings back memories.
I can relate to that, as I’m sure it does to many. Of course, my boyhood wasn’t in Wales, but the Lowlands. Les Pays Bas, die Nieder-landen, “Nether” lands, which included Flanders at one time in history.
Our home in the countryside had only one source of heating, actually two, but the big iron stove with a long metal pipe going to the chimney and heated with coal was only used to prepare meals. The other source was a small gas stove. We had no electricity.
Because heating sources were scarse, the bedrooms, bathroom and hall were very cold in wintertime.
The only advantage was when the ‘Great Designer of Winter’ created fairy-tale like, lace looking images on the windows. Here they call him Jack Frost.
My apologue (children’s story) “The Icy-Crystal See-Through No-Name Man” is all about this topic. You can read this and other stories at: http://www.millennia.org/artist/stories.htm
In my boyhood winters were often a lengthy affair, and if many frosts had gone over the ponds, moats and small waterways, we would skate. In order to learn this skill, we’d hold onto a chair, pushing it along the ice, for balance, like elderly folk use walkers today.
Our skates weren’t the state of the art models like today. They were made of wood, with a carved, curly front, all held together by leather straps. The early skates were made of animal bones.
When winter was very long, with many nights of frost, in Friesland the famous “Elfstedentocht” would be held. A gruelling, lengthy skating event covering the distance between eleven (“elf”) cities throughout the waterways of Friesland. That’s why the skaters from Holland always do so well in the Olympics and other international competitions.
And yes, in our childhood we made snow men and women, and enjoyed many snowball battles. Children will always be children, no?
Enjoy the hot cocoa. Signing off, Henri

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