The Last Windrow: Winter reluctant to leave farm country
There had been reports that the first robin of spring had arrived. The small creeks were bubbling their way toward the distant Missouri River and the first sprigs of green grass were to be seen in the pasture below the farmhouse. Dad was oiling the chains on the oat end-gate seeder in preparation of the first of the planting season.
The year was 1952 and I was enjoying my first year of country school, Lincoln Township No. 2. It was to be one of the last of my country school experiences as within two years this school would be consolidated into the Hinton Community School in Hinton, seven miles away.
It was the second week of March after a brutal and long winter. Snowdrifts were silently disappearing from the landscape. Only those of huge size were yet to be seen melting in the ditches and among the shaded creases in the landscape. It was still too early to start fieldwork, but tilling was only a month away, maybe even sooner.
Our teacher, Mrs. Stansbury had the country school kids outside on the ball diamond that morning for recess. We hooped and hollered as one of the big kids hit one of her pitches out of sight in left field. Mrs. Stansbury left something to be desired as a pitcher, but she made sure even we lower grade kids had a chance to get a hit. We reveled in the morning sun, feeling its warming rays which we had not felt for sometime.
After emptying my Lone Ranger lunch box at noon, outdoors alongside the white schoolhouse, we all were called back in where my class was instructed to lie on our mats and take our usual one half hour nap. The older kids got to work on their tablets and Mrs. Stansbury busied herself correcting papers at her desk at the front of the room. All was quiet and peaceful.
I was awakened by the back door of the schoolhouse bursting open and one of our neighbors entered, walked up to Mrs. Stansbury’s desk and whispered something in her ear. He left quickly. We were all called to attention at our desks and we heard the news that a blizzard was approaching from the southwest and we were to get our things in order to be picked up by our parents.
In the warm spring air, none of us had bothered to wear our heavy coats or boots to school that day. Within an hour parents began arriving to pick up their kids and my dad was one of them. He packed me into the 1951 Chevy and headed the mile and one half back to our farm. It was still hard to believe we were being released when the weather had seemed so gentle.
Two hours after we arrived home the sky darkened, the wind began to howl out of the northeast and a fine mist descended on farm country. Soon the mist turned to sleet, then to ice and then it snowed. It snowed for three days and nights. Drifts piled up to the height of the barn roof and packed as hard as concrete across our farmyard. Livestock was kept inside barns. All chores slowed to a crawl and there was no traffic on the gravel road in front of our farm.
It was March. Spring was just around the corner and we had felt her caress. But like a jilted lover, she had turned her back on those who had rejoiced in her coming. It was March. Winter was not yet ready to cede its territory. It would be another month before we played another game of softball outside the schoolhouse.
Those of us who share a love of winter also share a love of seeing it go back home. I’m wishing for that to happen very soon.
It is March.
See you next time. Okay?