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Norma Bartol: A lifelong love affair with winter

February 16, 2017

The headline of my last column was “Remembrance of winters that were winters.” Of course we had that near blizzard, so I have gone from sad to very happy indeed.

Winter was wonderful in those days of my growing up, and I spent a lot of time enjoying the white stuff. I mentioned the sleigh riding in Belle Haven, but we also did a great deal of sleigh riding in all sorts of different places.

A great favorite was behind Greenwich Country Day School, which had quite a hill, and then of course the Greenwich Country Club golf course, and also at Round Hill, and what a good time we had. Up and down, up and down, up and down. Also a great spot were the hills by the school, where we could enjoy the company of many of our schoolmates.

I heard with great joy recently of the good times my friends were having cross-country skiing in the Greenwich Riding and Trails land up in the backcountry. I must confess that if I were not in Vermont or perhaps even lucky enough to be out west, I would have enjoyed our time on the beautiful Nichols trails now owned by the Greenwich Riding and Trails Association.

Of course winter also brought ice skating and there was a great deal of that in our town. One particular place that I remember quite well was where the Greenwich High School has taken over, and thus explains why the high school and environs has so much trouble with water, because that’s what it was before they decided to build the school there.

(This of course was one of the reasons why not everybody was wildly enthusiastic about building the high school where it is now, and in many ways they were right. However, what’s done is done.)

Even people such as my grandparents used to skate where the high school is, and all of us enjoyed that particular place which was such a delightful spot to do one’s skating.

Fortunately there were many other locations where ice skating could take place. We used to enjoy, if we were very careful, the Byram river above where I live now on Riversville Road, although one had to be extremely careful that we didn’t fly down the waterfall that is hidden behind there.

What we used to do was, and also those young people of bygone days would do, was to put a great big log in front of the waterfall so that if one got a little bit out of control they would hopefully hit the log first.

Of course these days we have the Greenwich Skating Club and also the Byram Skating Club, since even though one might not think so, recent winters have been not much, even accounting for the Thursday almost-blizzard. I must say even though I can no longer ski, I still enjoyed looking out my window with the fireplace going and with good books to read, although most of the time I spend looking out of the window.

Another interesting place to ice skate, which is something I did with a friend one winter when it was bitterly cold, was down the Byram River behind where it crosses over Lake Avenue. We skated down quite a way by taking our skates off and walking around where the skating was poor, and then putting them back on and continuing on. It was a very interesting thing to do and I really enjoyed it, as well as the company of my friend who did it with me.

Now I’m sitting here and thinking about the fact that we are going to have more snow in the not too distant future. I have to say I’m delighted, although I realize this is not a popular thought. But on the other hand, winter should be winter, just as summer should be summer, and spring be spring, and fall be fall.

Somehow or other I feel a little put out when we do have these winters that are summer, and also some summers that are like winter.

You can’t imagine how wonderful I felt, sitting in my kitchen looking out the window, watching the snow as it came down. Let’s hope we are going to have real winters again.