Prickly winter air . . . crunchy, crusty snow . . . Flexible Flyer sleds . . . wet mittens . . . white leather ice skates.
All my memories of winter time in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, are good ones. Cold, soggy socks warmed up and dried out on the heat register in Grandma Longenecker’s kitchen. Frozen lips thawed by hot chocolate with fat little marshmallows bobbing up and down.
Yes, there was snow and there was ice, sometimes both the same weekend. On snowy days and nights when traffic was at a stand-still, two Longenecker Flexible Flyer sleds zipped down the curve of the long hill between our house and Grandma’s. (There were more children than sleds, so we had to take turns.) Alongside the woods, there was another, shorter hill with a steeper grade for a faster thrill.
The ice was nice on Heisey’s pond. The Heiseys, Jap and Winnie, owned the limestone quarry on the edge of Rheems, and Winnie Heisey’s pond was filled with skaters, including me, especially on Sunday afternoons. Some skaters waltzed around the perimeter of the pond. Some played crack the whip with most landing on their behinds as the tail of skaters at the end of the line flew off in other directions. Some wobbly beginners skated slowly. The expert ones skated forward and backwards. Since it required wiggling the behind just so, I could never master this move.
Just now, can you hear the melody line of The Skater’s Waltz by Emil Waldteufel? His name would fit right in with the listings in a Lancaster County, PA phone book, but Waldteufel was not actually German, but an Alsatian Frenchman inspired by ice-skaters venturing onto the frozen Seine River in Paris. News to me!
In the orchestral piece, composer Waldteufel captures the mood of serene skaters with graceful rising and falling lines but then interjects exuberance with bouncy notes and even some sleigh bells.
The piano doesn’t do the waltz justice, but it should bring back a memory or two!
Tell us your winter memories. Do they involve sledding? Ice skating? Something else?
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