Warmth of Winter

Tell me a story of deep delight.  ~Robert Penn Warren

Seven-on-a-hike-in-snow-c.-2012-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Seven making his way through the snow on a hike. c. 2012

Being a Pennsylvanian gal, I do appreciate all weather and I love cycling through the four seasons.  Personally, I couldn’t imagine skipping a winter, summer, fall or spring.  It’s true I do have my favorites, winter and fall being the top two but again, I love all seasons.

I also like all weather.  Whether it be rainy days or brisk chilly evenings, just like the seasons, there’s always something to do in any weather condition.  Even a snow storm?

You bet!  The snow may have continuously fell all weekend, and it wasn’t what I would call a snow storm, but it was nice and cozy.  In anticipation of the horrible road conditions, Nicole came home on Friday night to visit.  We were all going to go out to eat for my dad’s birthday, belated.  The only place we ended up going was to church, for not wanting to chance it on the snow covered roads.

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One place we sled ride, my cousin’s field. This is the view. 2014

Was I upset or disappointed?  Nope!  Not in the slightest.  There’s nothing like warming up in front of the fireplace when the snow is falling outside, drinking hot chocolate, and getting cozy with the family and dogs alike.  Sure I would have also enjoyed being on the slopes getting a few miles on my snowboard, but I wouldn’t change a thing all weekend.

A few board games made the list of activities, Kyle and I played a mean game of Battleship and Nicole and Kyle played Kyle’s beloved Summoner Wars.  (Not really my cup of tea, but I’m sure one day I’ll have to learn to play.)  We watched movies, took naps and Kyle played his video games for probably too long, but we all did our own thing, and loved it.  I even took the time to work on some freelance work and write.  Did we take advantage of the snow?

You bet we did!  We even went sled riding at night!  I haven’t done that since I was a kid.  For some reason shooting down over the hill in the darkness, with only my parents spotlights on the side of the house to light our way is exciting.  Nicole even joined us and rode down the hill a few times.  That made Kyle’s night!   He really wanted to sled ride with his Aunt Nikki and he got his wish.  Me on the other hand, Kyle knows I love playing in the snow so it wasn’t a big deal but expected.

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Scooby checking out the snow on a hike … wonder what he spots? c. 2012

We let gravity drag us through all the powered to the bottom of the hill and then we fought that same gravity to walk back up.  We did this so many times I lost track, at least I did.  The dogs got their exercise too.  For they chased me down the hill and ran back to the top to start again or find another poor soul to chase.  My sister’s dog Avery (a.k.a. Acorn) had a headlight on her collar that Nicole turned on.  For some reason that really cracked us up.  We played outside until the cold soaked us through and we agreed it was time to warm up.

Nicole and Avery left mid-day Sunday so they could take their time, in case the roads were still bad.  All-in-all it was a nice relaxing, lazy-day weekend.  I don’t care what anyone says, there’s nothing like being warm and toasty in the cold of winter.  Getting out and playing in the fun that winter brings is nice too!

posted by auntheather in Church,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Pets,Reminiscing,Snowboarding and have No Comments

I Don’t Need a Coat, It’s Not Cold

Give the children love, more love and still more love – and the common sense will come by itself.  ~Astrid Lindgren

Kyle-in-sled-2003-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle in his sled, about 2 years old. c. 2003

Sometimes I wonder if the common sense is present in any kid today?

Now that the temperatures have plummeted into the negative degrees, I keep thinking of Kyle and his aversion to winter coats and long sleeves.  Yes even long sleeve T-shirts!  Seriously, it drives me crazy when he whines, “Why do I need a coat?  I’m not cold, I’m hot.”  Come on back to reality, buddy.  Even when the temperatures reach the teens, we all know that statement could not possibly be true!  But he’ll swear to it and put up a fight like his life depended on it.

Getting Kyle to wear a coat has been an onward struggle for years.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time he wore a coat, except for hunting season.  What really worries me, is Kyle’s not the only child acting like this.  There are other children who argue about the same thing.  So you mean to tell me,  this new generation has some super human heat source radiating from the core of their bodies?  They are the walking sun?  Because that’s what they act like.

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My bundled up little man! Miss those days when I knew he was completely cover & seemingly warm. Christmas Story?  c.2003

Kyle informed me yesterday when I talked to him that school was already canceled.  First of all, I don’t completely agree with that.  What do the children who experience these frigid temperatures as a norm do?  They don’t stop their life.  Granted, those kids are used to the cold and that’s a big difference.  Regardless, when he told me about the cancellation, I was kind of upset yet glad.  I instantly had a vision of Kyle, exposed, out in the cold, waiting for the bus with his hoodie on, no hat, no gloves, no scarf getting frost bite.  Not a pretty picture!

Not that I want this to happen, not in the slightest, but it would be something for Kyle to experience the results of his poor choices.  Now don’t get me wrong, I would do everything in my power to ensure that child is always kept physically, mentally and spiritually sound, but I sure do wish I could prove my point without it permanently damaging him.

As I discuss this phenomenon with my parents, I came to a pretty sound conclusion for this behavior.  Now I’m going to sound like an old timer, so bear with me for a moment and indulge me if you will.  Kids today have never really experienced winter.  I mean the brutal cold, the feet of snow, the constant snow storms and ice storms, the results of being stranded and snowed in.  I’m talking about true survival instincts taking over.  At least not in my part of the world, these kids I’m referring to.  Nope, this generation of kids arrived when winters started to become milder, and not as sever.  Plus, road crews seem to be more frequent, as opposed to the days when they would just shut down roads and wait till the weather passed before attempting to clear the way.  That’s one point, and another point would include coddling.

Aunt-Heather-Piper-Kyle-sled-riding-1-4-14

Me & Kyle sled riding in my cousin’s field. Yes I wear my snowboarding goggles .. I don’t like the sun or wind in my eyes. 1/4/14

To no fault of their own, kids now-a-days are well taken care of, at least in some ways, in others there’s a big gap.  I guess that’s an entirely different conversation so I’ll just stick to the cold issue.  Kids don’t walk to school (I did from first grade to sixth grade, almost a mile one way), kids don’t even walk to the bus stop anymore.  Nope, either the buses go out of there way to add stops or the parents drive them.  Again, to catch the bus in high school, we had to walk about seven tenths of a mile, one way.  (Kyle knows this route, for I have made him walk it with me to stretch our legs)  Then, instead of standing and waiting for the bus, the kids sit in the warm car.  This generation, generally speaking, goes from a warm house, into a heated garage, into a warmed up car with heated seats, into a heated bus and into a heated school building, to only repeat the process in reverse.  No wonder they think they’re hot!

They don’t know what it’s really like to have to bundle up or freeze to death.  The little bit of cold they experience is quickly removed from a contained heat wave within shelter.  They don’t get that things could happen, like a freak snow storm leaving one stranded alongside a roadway, power outage, lasting for more than a few hours or any combination of these instances.  Mom always did teach us to be prepared and I guess I’m trying to teach Kyle the same.

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Close-up of our view as we sled ride in my cousin’s field. Perfect day! 1/4/14

I remember when I first started driving, mom always had us pack a blanket among other provisions in the car, just in case.  For the longest time, I would keep a pair of winter boots, they usually were my snowboarding boots but regardless, in the car JUST IN CASE.  If I ever got stranded with Kyle now, what would I do?  Granted, everyone has cell phones and there always seem to be road crews out and about, but things could happen very quickly.

How can I get this through Kyle’s head?  Wear at least a winter jacket and hat!  The kid continues to get ear infections, one would think it would be second nature to wear a hat.  After all, we’ve engrained it in him since he was little, but I guess if it’s not reinforced by all parties, then it will not become habit.  I miss the days of old when I could bundle him up as I saw fit, and he didn’t have an opinion one way or the other.  I get it, kids are pretty resilient, yet they do have limitations.

Are all kids in the late and preteen age like this?  Is it just Western Pennsylvania?  In a way I truly hope kids are just warmer naturally, and no child is out freezing in the cold.  In a way, I kind of feel ashamed for Kyle, for he has warm clothing to his disposal and he snubs his nose at it, when there are kids without that luxury.  I wish he would at least appreciate what he has more and not take it for granted.

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing,Snowboarding and have No Comments

Uncle Ray – Passing of a Piper Legend

Whether you like it or not, you’re forced to come to the realization that death is out there. But I don’t fear death, I’m a fatalist. I believe when it’s your time, that’s it. It’s the hand you’re dealt.  ~Clint Eastwood

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Uncle Ray & Kyle. We stopped in for a visit… glad Kyle got to know his great Uncle Ray! c. 7/2011

Today is  bittersweet.  As we move from one year to the next, God has brought home another one of His blessed sons.  It saddens me to talk about the passing of my Uncle Ray and yet I am very proud of the man I knew and shared the surname Piper.  I am also very happy he is no longer suffering and reunited with my Aunt Clemmie.  I bet Ryan is showing him around!

My heart goes out to my cousins who lost their grandpap, great grandpap and father.  Also to all of my cousins, family and friends of the family everywhere, may you be comforted to have simply known Uncle Ray and the truly upstanding man he was.  Stories of Uncle Ray will be told for years to come, for he was one of the good ones who lived a very full life.

Naturally, everyone on Facebook is sending their thoughts and prayers to the family.  My cousin Brook, one of Uncle Ray’s grand kids commented on Facebook that Uncle Ray was shot in the chest at age 19 in France while fighting with Patton’s 3rd Army.  What?  Really?  Wow!  I had no idea!  I’m sure over the years, I’ll probably learn more about Uncle Ray then I could ever have guessed, certainly more than my little world ever knew.  So let the stories begin!  Uncle Ray has earned center stage!

Uncle Ray was my pap’s brother on my dad’s side.  Yep, Uncle Ray was a Piper through and through.  Of course, I cannot speak of Uncle Ray and exclude his late wife, my Aunt Clemmie.  They were two peas in a pod, and admittedly a couple of my favorites.

It’s funny, but most of my memories of Uncle Ray and Aunt Clemmie included Halloween.  No joke!  My family grew up on a ridge, not the one Uncle Ray and Aunt Clemmie lived, but a connecting one.  It’s great living away from town except for the fact there are no walkable neighborhoods to trick-or-treat during Halloween.  Minor downside.  Mom would always take care of that situation by driving all of us ghosts and ghouls around to collect our share of sweet treats.  In addition to acquiring more candy (because you know there is never enough) and extending the Halloween fun, trick-or-treating the Piper ridge was a great excuse to see family, aside from the Piper Reunion in July.  Me, Ryan, Nicole, Casey, Joel, and Elizabeth, and later Mikey would pile in the car.  Usually mom took us because Karen had Marla and later Stacey.  We would make our pit stops all along the ridge, hitting up family and friends of the family.

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My cousin Sonny (Ray), his dad my Uncle Ray & dad at the Piper Reunion 2012

Uncle Ray and Aunt Clemmie’s stop was a favorite, also one of the last ones.  I loved going back to their house.  It was always so creepy in the darkness and among the trees.  Perfect for Halloween, loved it!  Uncle Ray always made us homemade potato chips in the barn.  To this day, I can still smell the grease and taste the crunchy starchy goodness of the chips.  Growing up, mom and dad never kept junk food among the cupboards, so the homemade potato chips were a real treat!

As a kid, I hated to wait for chips to finish bathing in the oil, and let’s not discuss the patience I had to demonstrate while they cooled.  (I was never very patient)  When Uncle Ray added the salt, I knew it wasn’t long before I would get a taste!  Looking back on it now, how many kids were blessed with freshly made potato chips made from a real cowboy?

Throughout the summer, me, Ryan and Nicole would take turns spending a week with my gram and pap on the ridge.  Ryan was lucky, he usually got to go to the sawmill with pap, while I was stuck with gram.  Nicole never did mind laying around grams house, which I still don’t get to this day.  Although, to break up the time, gram would drag me around to visit local family.  Usually, it was uneventful, except when I would hang with my Uncle Ralph and of course, my Uncle Ray and Aunt Clemmie.  My days were spent in the barn or in his fields.  Uncle Ray would help entertain me by letting me help him with small chores.  Seriously the best!  I loved helping out around the house and spending time with Uncle Ray.  He always wore that cowboy hat!  I used to think he was so goofy.  Naturally, I would tell him so and he would always pick back.  Loved him!

One more quick story.  Periodically, throughout the winter, my parents would fire up the snowmobiles and take us for rides back through the woods.  Those trips were a blast!  You see back then, winter really was winter.  Snow laid on the ground from about November or December till about March or April.  It was great!  There wasn’t just a dusting either, there was consistently piles and piles of snow all winter long!  So going through the woods was a non-issue, especially when you’re racing above the ground with a feet of snow between.  The ridge my parents live on connects to the Piper ridge, via the Butina ridge (these are most certainly not technical names but it was how I was grown up to refer to such places and most people understand these directions).

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Aunt Clemmie at the Piper Reunion 2002. Totally miss her!

Mom would ride with Nicole and dad would take me and Ryan.  (Ryan always got to ride upfront and steer while I was stuck behind dad.  Just like Kyle, always a stinker.)  Mom would call a few relatives to let them know we were heading up, to be ready for us.  Sometimes mom and dad’s neighbors, the Davis’ and the Ferry’s would fire up their snowmobiles and ride along.  We always left when it was dark, adding to the excitement!  In my mind, it was midnight, when in reality it was probably around 6:00 pm or so.

By the time we got to Uncle Ray and Aunt Clemmie’s, which was always a stop, Aunt Clemmie would have hot chocolate ready to bring me back from my frozen state.  I always got really cold, even when I ate ice-cream, so riding in the cold wind didn’t do me justice, even though I loved every minute of it.  We always hung out at Uncle Ray’s, shooting the breeze and gold old fashion visiting, before calling it a night and making our departure back down the ridge.

I can still see Uncle Ray and Aunt Clemmie’s faces.   They never seemed bothered by us kids running around and always welcomed us!  I think Aunt Clemmie loved being my hot chocolate savior!

I am truly grateful that Kyle got to meet and hang out with Uncle Ray.  Even though the meetings were short and didn’t mean much to my little man at the time, I am certain over the years he will learn more about his family and appreciate them as much as I have come to.

Rest-in-Peace Uncle Ray and God Speed!

This video cracks me up.  How many conversations are going on all at once?  This is what it’s like when you get a room full of Piper’s together. c.7/2011

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Family,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments

Seeing the World Through Goggles

Cherish those precious moments because their will come a day and time when the children are challenging and unruly, but it is always worth being patient and getting through those harder days.  ~Unknown

Kyle-in-Goggles-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2002

I posed Kyle in my snowboarding goggles when he was 6 months old. 1/2002

Now that we are approaching snowboarding season, hopefully, since last year we didn’t have much of a winter, I thought of this adorable story.  It always brings a smile to my face.  Every now and again a memory from my mental diary surfaces, and this one was too cute to pass up.

It starts with Kyle, maybe three years old or there about, I’m going back roughly eight years.  I met a friend of mine, her sister-in-law and her son at the Olive Garden for soup and salad.  Naturally, I had Kyle with me because more than not, he’s attached to my hip.  Of course I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Us Piper’s never leave our little man behind.

Being a little tyke, Kyle’s car seat was in the backseat strategically placed in the center so I could see him in the rear-view mirror.  Not to mention, I always thought it was safer in case there was an accident, then he would be protected by the surrounded space.

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Me in Breckenridge Colorado… love those mountains! c. 2009

Surprisingly (sarcasm), my snowboard was in the car along with my gear.  I fold down the back of one seat and slide the board through the trunk to rest on the now constructed flat surface.  That’s were it resides most of the winter.  Never know when I need to hit the slopes for an emergency snowboard ride!  Well, for whatever reason I had my goggles in the house and Kyle felt the need to put them on.  He didn’t just put them on, he placed the goggles over his eyes and kept them there even as we left the house.  Yep, we departed to start our journey to meet up with Holsters and her sister-in-law, and Kyle’s accessory of choice was a pair of snowboarding goggles.  To be honest, I thought he liked them because it kept the cold air off of his face and the sun out of his eyes.  I usually wear tinted goggles.  My eyes are really sensitive to the sun, especially reflecting off of bright snow.

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Kyle’s 6 month old photo shoot… I knew he was going to love snowboarding! 1/2002

As we drove to the restaurant, Kyle just sat in the backseat sporting the goggles like it was normal.  I fully expected him to remove the protective eye wear when we got inside.  Nope.  He kept the goggles on his face like they were his reading glasses.  He went along his business eating and hanging out, all while wearing the goggles!  Holsters looked at me like ‘What is up with the goggles?” and my only response was, “I have no idea, but he seems to like them.  I’m excited!  Snowboarding here we come!”  In my eyes, his positivity toward goggles meant he likes to snowboard.  I know that’s silly, but that’s how I spun the situation.  At this point, I don’t I took Kyle snowboarding yet and he never saw me ride.  But you know, I think he associated those goggles with me.

Kyle was really too cute!  Our server couldn’t even help but giggle and smile at this little bleach blond haired boy, wearing snowboarding goggles while eating!  You should have seen all the looks as we walked in the restaurant and lets not forget when we exited the joint.  Kyle didn’t seem to mind.  He didn’t relish in the attention but he didn’t shy away from it either.  It’s as though he didn’t notice anyone staring.  Kyle certainly turned a lot of heads, this time for a good positive reason.  I must say I was proud to walk beside this content young man, who was so enchanting, I even fell under his spell.  To this day, I wish I would taken a picture of video of the event.  But alas that memory is mine, and those that witnessed it.

You know it’s those unplanned precious moments that stick with us forever!

posted by auntheather in Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Reminiscing,Snowboarding and have No Comments

Snowboarding? Not Yet!

A snowflake is one of God’s most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together!  ~ Anonymous

Kyle sitting on ski lift in Snowshoe WV Aunt Heather Piper

Waiting for another run. Snowshoe, West Virginia c. 2010

You know, I am definitely more of a cool weather girl.  I tend to favor fall and winter over the heat and humidity.  You know what?  I think Kyle is the same. He hates being overheated and sweaty, he tends to be a salt water covered kid, all year round.  Sometimes perspiration  just pours from his head.  Even when he was a tiny little baby, I used to walk around with him in a papoose type of baby carrier.  I would place him in this backwards type of book bag, hanging off of my chest.  I loved it, he was safe and my hands were free.  Man, did Kyle make me hot!  It wasn’t too bad in the winter, he was like my space heater, but in the summer it was rough.  I’m not really a sweaty person, which doesn’t do me any good when I run, but having Kyle lay on me and radiate heat, makes my body start to sweat.

Snowshoe WV Aunt Heather Piper

Stacey, me, Kyle and Casey (cousins) Snowshoe, WV 2011

Off of that tangent and onto another… Lately we’ve had unseasonable weather.  It’s been in the 50’s and rainy, except this week, which is just cold with a hint of snow.  I will admit, during the dog days of summer, I do wish for winter.  I enjoy all seasons, but I love snow!  I don’t know if it’s from me or not, but Kyle always wishes for the snow to fall too.  He loves to sled ride and be my little snowboarder buddy.  I started Kyle out on a board when he was three years old.  Taking him on my snowboard in front of my parents house, which is on a slight down hill that opens up into my uncle’s field, that was the easiest way to start him out.  I had Kyle stand in the middle of the board while I was strapped in, holding his hands.  We would go down the hill and eventually fall over into the fluffy snow.  We had a blast!!  Sometimes, during our trek across the driveway, before getting any momentum, we would get stuck and dad would stand there to give my shoulder a push and get us going again.

Going down hill wasn’t so bad, not that that’s a surprise.  But it was tough unstrapping my bindings and carrying my board up the hill while holding Kyle’s hand.  He had a hard time walking in the deep snow.  Those little legs where just long enough to get up over the snow, let along make them move up a hill covered in snow.  It was all totally worth it!  We must have made at least 20 runs before calling it day.  In fact, we kept it up in the dark.  Dad turned on the spotlights along side the house so we could see.  We rode until I realized Kyle’s gloves were pretty wet and his hands were getting cold.  He didn’t want to go in, but I told him I would make us hot chocolate and we would warm up.  Reluctantly he agreed.  Even though my body felt like I ran a marathon, not that I know what that feels like, but I can only imagine.

Kyle snowboarding at Hidden Valley Aunt Heather Piper

Taking a break from snowboarding at Hidden Valley. c. 2010

Now back to the present day, last Wednesday to be exact.  As Kyle and I watched the news, showing a brief clip about the town in Alaska that was dumped with 18 feet of  snow, (Yep, not inches, we’re talking feet)  it was funny, I could see Kyle’s brain trying to comprehend what he heard, making sure he understood what the news anchor reported.  I said, “Did you hear that?  They have 18 to 20 feet of snow.  Not inches, FEET!”  Putting a real emphasis on FEET.  His eyes were in shock and then he turned his head toward the front door, threw up his hands and gave a ‘Where’s our snow?’ gesture.  Meanwhile, it was raining pretty hard outside.  I said, “I guess it’s all in Alaska.”  I knew what his response was all about.  You see, Kyle looks forward to hanging with me on the mountain, as do I.  It’s hard enough to maintain patience for myself when I’m waiting on the snow, but trying to be patient with Kyle is an almost unrealistic task.

Recently we did start receiving snow, which I knew would eventually come and currently go.  But I must say, those 18 feet seem like more fun than our couple of inches and light dusting.  I’m really blessed and happy that Kyle and I have our hobby together.  Maybe that’s why I look forward to winter.  I get to hang with my Narrow in God’s country.

Check out the Cordova Alaska snow situation.

http://auntheather.com/2011/lighting-up-the-holiday/

posted by auntheather in Education & Learning,Family,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing,Snowboarding and have No Comments
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