Scanning Around With Gene: Winter Wonderland
Winter is the one season I don’t know very well — at least not in the ways we traditionally think of winter. I’ve lived on the West Coast my whole life, so winter has always been mild to say the least. While I’ve travelled to places where winter comes in the form of snow, barren trees, and frozen ponds, I’ve never had to shovel a driveway, missed school because of a snow day, or ridden a sleigh down a bumpy hill. And my limited experience with ice skates took place indoors during the summer.
But I do think that no matter where you live, the spirit of winter comes through, thanks in part to the holidays that begin the season. And even in places like Los Angeles, where I grew up, there are subtle changes that signal a special time of year has arrived. Plus, we all have a romantic view of winter, thanks to the media and arts. Click on any image for a larger version.
Today’s images come from a small book series published in 1948 on the four seasons, meant to educate small children. This particular edition was written by Barbara Morris Parker and illustrated by Florence McAnelly.
Mostly, it seems, winter has to do with cold weather. It is just assumed that there will be snow at some point and things will be frozen — snow is surely the most popular image to represent the season, and even in a place like Los Angeles where it never snows, we associated the season with it.
And of course Christmas comes in winter, so that’s something many of us share, even though it technically has nothing to do with nature’s seasonal changes. But it’s a dramatic start to the season and sets the tone and mood for the months to come.
Kids were outdoors more in 1948. You can’t really experience the season without engaging directly in the climate, and under the right circumstances that climate can be a lot of fun. Unless you have to drive the school bus or deliver the mail.
In my house we had exactly one fire in the fireplace each year, on Christmas Eve, and that was done with trepidation and fear that the whole house would go down in flames. We certainly never made popcorn over the fire or played anywhere near open flames.
And since the Los Angeles night sky has no visible stars, we didn’t notice the changes there. Though it was semi-dark on winter mornings when we had to get up to go to school.
We did have milk delivered in my childhood, but I’m unfamiliar with the concept of a milk-bottle “hat,” which I assume had something to do with the freezing temperatures. And of course we had no ponies or bunnies, though we did have a small raincoat and rubber boots for our dog, which he hated.
These days winter means something different is on TV, or the new video games are out for the holiday shopping season. But I suspect kids still make drawings in the condensation on the windows.
I’m often sorry I didn’t grow up where there was snow, even though I know it has some serious downsides. But it seems an important part of a diverse childhood, and can it really be winter without snow?
Of course on the West Coast we have the Pacific Ocean, which gives us a slight advantage in summer imagery, so perhaps it works out. But now that it’s winter, I long to look look out my window at a blanket of snow instead of just another sunny day.