American Humor and Winter Snow

The last laugh column shares MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader submitted regional American humor with other MOTHER readers.


| December 1995/January 1996



153-096-01i2

Bill Chapin has spent much of his life in the snow. . .too much.


ILLUSTRATION: DARREN THOMPSON

Last Laugh shares MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader submitted American humor with other readers. 

American Humor and Winter Snow

I have always had an affinity for snow. I think it all started with maple syrup snowballs. Southern Vermont, where I lived as a kid, was littered with maple trees, including three stately giants that reared up from the front lawn. And if you have maple trees in Vermont, you have to tap them, if only to establish your credentials. We tried to tap, but despite much finessing and jimmying, at most we produced about three gallons of syrup each year. We were not very good tappers.

It was enough to make maple syrup snowballs, however. The process is simple: You mold a nice firm ball of a size that would look comfortable on a pool table, then drip the syrup into it until it is saturated—don't skimp. Then bite. Ambrosia. Worthy of Maxim's of Paris ...at least we thought so.

Snowballs, of course, are versatile. You can sneak them under the blankets of your younger brother just before he goes to bed. You can bunker into the side of a roadway and mortar passing cars and bicyclists. And if your comrade in arms becomes a bit too complacent, you can always reinstill a little alertness with one. They carry a uniquely personal message.

There's a limit to the number of maple syrup snowballs you can eat, Maxim's notwithstanding. So sliding was next. My sled was state of the art: a Flexible Flyer. This was a beautiful vehicle. It went where you guided it, and that's just as well, because not long after I got it I slid down the hill opposite the farmhouse and right underneath the soft underbelly of a Guernsey cow, forelegs to the left, hind legs to the right. Didn't touch a hair, and the cow didn't even look down. Cows are dreamy beasts, and what was she doing out in the winter snow anyway?

I missed the cow, but I hit the fence once. This was truly dumb. It was a wooden rail fence at the bottom of a gentle slope near the barns. I said to myself, "I bet I can slide under that thing," and I took off. BONG! My head hit the lowest rail and the sled, feeling liberated, slid right out from under me and kept going, into the meadow where it did a little dance. It's fortunate that I was wearing a heavy woolen cap; without it, I would now be more addlepated than I actually am. Calculus, which I studied later in life, would have been out of the question. It's also fortunate that no one saw me; otherwise it would have become part of my permanent driving record.





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