#SOLC17: A winter memory

The Slice of Life March Writing Challenge @ Two Writing Teachers – 31 days of  a writing community.mittens on heater

We had a delayed opening today due to Stella, the what-we-hope-is-the-last winter storm of the season.  The roads were still icy, and everyone was having trouble getting to where they needed to be on time.  I had that feeling of dread every time I rounded a bend on the way to school, and the parking lot was still a treacherous glass of ice everywhere I needed to put one foot in front of the other on my way the school house door.

The halls seemed subdued when students finally began to file in.  Parkas crinkled and swished, boots squeaked, puddles began to form by lockers where students grumpily stacked and removed the items they needed, the hallways were marked up with trails and tracks of salt and snow .

We began our day as we usually do, reading.  For a time, a blissful time, the only sounds in our classroom were of pages turning, some sniffly breathing, and the radiator blowing gusts of hot air up into the clothesline display of  our Lewis and Clark  projects.  I glanced around at my kids sprawled around the room in their “reading zones” and was transported back in time, momentarily…

…to 1967, a classroom in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I was spending a year while my parents taught at MIT.  Coming from India, I had seen traces of snow only at a great distance – from the windows of trains traveling up to the hill country of Simla and Darjeeling.  And there was so much snow that Boston winter!  I never tired of touching it, tasting delicate snowflakes, building snow men, fashioning snow balls, and just gazing out windows at the white expanse that changed with every phase of sunlight and moonlight.

I especially loved reading at my wooden school desk, which was (oh so happily!) right next to the great big radiator and the window.  The radiator ran the length of the window – and we lined up our woolen mittens and scarves every morning and after every recess on its perpetually gurgling ridges.  I loved the woolly smell that emanated, something so quintessentially wintery, and every once in a while I’d look up to see if delicate plumes of steam were still rising from this winter army assembled in a haphazard jumble of pink, green and blue.  I loved reading time in that comfortable old classroom, winter outside and the warmth of our reading community inside.

In my classroom this morning, my kids were in their  favorite spots and positions, lost in their books.   I wonder what memories they will have of their  snowy reading days in school.

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19 thoughts on “#SOLC17: A winter memory

  1. Something about old wooden desks and radiators; one of my favorite memories is watching my son sit in his desk in his bedroom, by the radiator, reading his first books.

  2. Radiator memories – I had them in my dorm room at college! I can’t believe you still have them in your classroom. “I loved reading time in that comfortable old classroom, winter outside and the warmth of our reading community inside.” And your memories of that first winter in Boston, all connected to a morning in your classroom today!

  3. What a powerful memory. I did not know you had lived in India. How strange and wonderful Boston must have seemed. The hustle and bustle of Cambridge. The rivers of ice.

    Gad you made it through the hazzards this morning. Hopefully some of this ice will melt.

  4. What a beautiful description of a memory. I love how you entered the story in present time and transported us back to radiators and steaming woolen mittens. I also loved the peaceful feeling of reading on a cold winter’s day.

  5. Proust couldn’t have said it any better. What exquisite words you chose for such a beloved memory. I was transported back in time to that classroom in Boston. How amazing that you lived in India. Why don’t you write about that…I’d love to know more.

  6. I always find it interesting that simple little things can trigger a memory or a flashback. I loved the way you transported me back to your school days all at the same time that I could see what was going on today. I, too, wonder what my students will remember about their school days.

  7. A perfect blending of the now and then. I remember the feel of wet mittens and mittens on radiators through your choice words. You take me back to my days of winter.

  8. Ohhhh, how I love this “back in time piece”….that wooly smell. I know just what you mean. 1967….my sister was born during one of those snow storms. It is funny how weather events can evoke such memories. Thank you for this….

  9. Love reading about your classroom memory, and then today’s connection. One of the reasons I love my new home is that it has radiators. I love the little click they make when they turn on, and yes, I too put the gloves and scarves on them. Hope you’re now home and cozy in another place.

  10. This line: “I loved the woolly smell that emanated, something so quintessentially wintery, and every once in a while I’d look up to see if delicate plumes of steam were still rising from this winter army assembled in a haphazard jumble of pink, green and blue.” brought me right back to elementary school — I could literally smell it!!! This was slice was so well crafted with imagery. Your word choice and description is a wonderful mentor for imagery. Thank you for sharing – we look forward to using it.
    Clare

  11. I loved reading this memory. It’s a lovely slice that takes me back to my own elementary school memories, and it reveals much about you. Your students are so very blessed to be in your class. I wish I could return to sixth grade for a day and visit.

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