In Impromptus today, I have an item about weather memories. What do I mean? Oh, you know: “When I was a kid, the snow was so deep . . .” (And you used to have to walk seven miles through it to school.) Sometimes our memories are accurate; sometimes they are contradicted by scientific records; sometimes they are accurate and relatively meaningless. I tell a little bit about how children in Ann Arbor, Mich., used to sled all the time — all the time! — on Huron Hills Golf Course. But then the snow stopped coming as it once did. And we all know: The weather has to be exactly the same, year in, year out, as the decades pass. I also quote RFK Jr., who said that his family’s home in Virginia, Hickory Hill, always had snow in the winter. Why, the neighbor kids would come to sled virtually every weekend.
I thought this letter from a reader was sharp:
I have been thinking about this over the years — the weather of our youth. I am guessing the hills that were “always” covered with snow back then were really covered for a season or two — a season or two very formative to us. Those were the days when the sledding fun never stopped. In reality, it probably lasted three weeks.
Think of the snow in D.C. in the last week — will it burn into the memories of today’s D.C. children as the snow the city “used to get”?
Or, as the poet put it, “. . . où sont les neiges d’antan?”
P.S. I have a friend and colleague, the music critic Fred Kirshnit, who once wanted to knock a contemporary orchestra (I believe) by comparing it with an orchestra of the past. With great charm and self-awareness, he said, “I hate to get all when-I-was-a-kid-the-snow-was-so-deep on you, but . . .”