The Best of Andy Rooney

(This classic Andy Rooney column was originally published Dec. 8, 1999.)

The experts who know about this sort of thing have been predicting terrible consequences for the Earth and all of us on it unless we do something to stop the warming of our planet.

Without really thinking about it, you'd think that the Earth was more apt to get too cold to sustain life in the future, but the danger is heat. We've lofted so much stuff into the atmosphere that it's damaging the ozone layer that acts as our dark glasses, shielding the earth from the sun. Other emissions trap heat in the atmosphere, contributing to the problem.

Being more sentimental than intellectual, I don't worry much about the real dangers of global warming. What I worry about is, if we don't have cold winters, kids will never know the fun of playing in snow. There's no greater memory of joy in my childhood than that of playing in the snow.

When I was very young, my mother bundled me up on a sled and pulled me the three blocks to Evans' Grocery store, then towed me home as I held the bag of food in my lap.

Before I was a teen, all the kids on our block went to the hill on the other side of Western Avenue every winter and rode our sleds down it all day. If kids still rode Flexible Flyers downhill today, someone would probably sell a device that towed them back up the hill so they wouldn't have to walk. We walked back up.

It is paradoxical that while we're getting less snow, the clothes for playing in it are better. The snow stuck in little balls to those old wool jackets we wore. As you got warm from pulling your sled up the hill, the snow melted and your jacket got soggy wet.

We always made a snowman in front of our house each winter. It was the ideal place, because we had a small hill between it and the sidewalk. We'd first roll the snowball across the top and then, as it got bigger and hard to push, we'd roll it down the hill, and it gathered snow and size as it went. We made our snowmen with three balls of diminishing size.

When we were a few years older, we gave up snowmen and made snow forts, from which we waged snowball wars.

Shoveling snow was the first way I made money. When I was 14, two or three of us went from house to house and asked the owners if they wanted their sidewalks shoveled. We charged 35 cents.

When our kids were young, I took them to a remote spot in the Adirondacks, where we built a big, igloo-shaped snow house to spend the night in. Knowing the good insulating properties of newspaper, I had brought a bundle of it to put down under our blankets on the floor of the snow house.

What I hadn't considered was the warming effect of the five bodies crammed inside. The temperature in the snow house was a bone-chilling -- but melting -- 33 degrees, and everything began to drip and sag. No one was sleeping, and before midnight, Ellen uttered a line that became a family classic. "Dad," she whispered, "this is like a survival test -- and we're failing it."

A wet snowfall of an inch or less is worse than no snowfall at all. It serves as a sad reminder of the great fun a foot of snow can be. When it snowed "deep and crisp and even," the whole world forgot its other, unmanageable problems and turned its attention to clearing a path. There was something magical about those crystals falling from the sky, piling up in one glorious, white blanket that covered the filth and shabbiness of everything underneath it.

Large parts of the earth get no snow at all. I feel sorry for all the kids who grow up in a land where it never snows. For the sake of the kids of the future, I hope ours doesn't become one of them.

Humor & Satire

Humor & Funny Stories - Snow Memories Warm the Heart | Andy Rooney

Article: Copyright © Tribune Media Services