Winter Laughing

My kids and I have developed a tradition of “Laughing in the Face of Winter.” For five years in a row now, we’ve looked for the meanest, harshest, coldest, snowiest day that Northeast Ohio can conjure up… and then we try to pretend that it’s a lovely summer day. To spite the snow and ice. To Laugh in the Face of Winter.

In 2018, we hiked to Deer Lick Cave in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, strolled the beaches of Lake Erie, and got ice cream cones from Mitchell’s in Ohio City. For the 2019 edition, we hiked to Blue Hen Falls in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and got blizzards from Dairy Queen. In 2020, we had a picnic on the top of Gildersleeve Mountain, ate ice cream from Handel’s, and played frisbee in the park. And then last year, in 2021, we hiked to a waterfall, lounged on the shores of Lake Erie, played basketball and baseball in the park, and then went to get ice cream at Mitchell’s.

So it seemed like a pretty favorable coincidence this year when the kids got an extra-long weekend and we got a significant winter storm at the same time. But honestly, this time around, I’m not sure if we got the best of winter — or if winter got the best of us.

Saskatchewan Screamer

I don’t remember another time when we ever got as much snow in in Northeast Ohio as we did last night and this morning. I’d estimate about eighteen inches in Kent. And the snow kept falling all the way until mid-day. Our street didn’t get its first visit from a snow plow until 11:30 AM. And even after the snow stopped… even after the plow came through to liberate our street… we still had to dig out our vehicles in order to go anywhere.

It’s hard to move that much snow! It’s hard to even find places to put all of that snow! After more than two hours of shoveling, we only had one of our family’s vehicles freed from the snow. I was exhausted before we even left the house. But we were determined to persevere.

We decided to make ice cream our first stop and reload all those calories that were burned as we shoveled. But when we made it to Handel’s (our favorite ice cream place), it was closed! “Maybe Dairy Queen instead?” we thought. But nope: It was closed, too. “Surely, McDonald’s will be open!” we said. But it, too, was shuttered by the snow storm. We finally ended up getting milkshakes at Swenson’s Drive-In.

After we received our order, we started driving again. And as we drove, we wore sunglasses and listened to summer songs on the car stereo. I think that may have been the best part of the afternoon.

We eventually ended up at Towner’s Woods, where we spent a little bit of time sun-bathing on beach towels in a meadow. It was hard trudging through the snow, though — especially with Cor in a walking boot. So again, we were quite tired by the time we finished our “relaxed sunbathing session.”

When we got back to our house, we were thinking that we might build a fire out on the deck and make some s’mores… But we just didn’t have it in us. We were wiped out. So Marci made some white chocolate macadamia nut blondies instead, and we relaxed by an indoor fire instead.

I think winter may have laughed at us, just as much as we laughed at winter this year. But still, it was a memorable experience — and I’m grateful that I got to do it all with my kids.

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