There are still a few things that can make this old buzzard feel like a kid again.
Even though I can theoretically purchase it anytime I want, Cap’n Crunch cereal still feels like a forbidden treat. When we were youngsters, we got Shreddies and Weetabix in a non-stop rotation as our standard breakfast fare. Every once in a while, we were allowed an absurdly sugary treat, with Fruit Loops and Cap’n Crunch my go-to choices.
So every blue moon now, fossilized me buys a box, and the delicious way the captain manages to have his treasure carve up the roof of my mouth makes me feel like I’m eight, and using a giant serving bowl to eat cereal and watch Speed Racer cartoons.
What else keeps me young? The ballpark.
The beginning of every ball season spurs on a certain youthful energy that’s hard to describe. Though I move about as quick as a glacier these days and am coaching T-ball as opposed to going yard (OK, dropping down sacrifice bunts) myself, there’s a fountain of youth quality provided by the smell of a baseball glove and freshly mown grass.
Old sports videos on YouTube.
I’d say about once a month, I’ll fall down the wormhole and check out some ancient highlights.
Danny Gallivan’s mellifluous tones of “Lafleur, coming out rather gingerly on the right side…” will always make me feel 12 again.
There’s a bunch of other stuff (I admit it, I’m a giant kid at heart): playing crib (my Gramps always used to say he taught me to count by twos), Connect Four (pretty sneaky, sis), Shamrock shakes, Plymouth Volares and on and on.
But those are personal.
How about one thing that can make everyone feel like a kid? Snow.
Now, as one of those grown-up dudes I used to read about, I can say without hesitation that for the most part, I now mostly loathe snow.
Surely, it looks pretty on the faraway mountains. But it makes driving a nightmare (especially here on the Island where everyone panics if a half-centimetre dusts the ground); turns all slushy and dirty and nasty; makes the sidewalks slippery and is generally a pain in the backside.
But there is one qualifier — snow is fantastic, if you get to play in it.
And I don’t mean you pay to find it — going skiing or snowboarding or sledding at a real ski hill. That’s great, of course, but it’s not the same.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you wake up in the morning and look outside to see a fresh blanket of snow, your inner little dude or dudette wants to run outside and make snow angels. (Not recommended if you’re already dressed for work).
Even today, wedging into my snow pants and heading with the actual kids to the tiny hill in our neighbourhood park is all kinds of fun. Every time it snows enough to play in, my internal memory drive immediately takes me back to Duncan — snowball fights at Drinkwater Elementary.
Building huge snow forts and having 80 kids firing iceballs at each other. I’m fairly certain given our overly litigious society today, the humanized snowflakes outlaw this practice, although every kid should experience a good facewash at some point.
Crazed loons that we were, we would bumper shine — hang on to the back of cars and trucks as they pulled us along. What could go wrong?
Shenanigans aside, though, my favourite part of any snowfall is the quiet.
There’s really no background noise, just a peaceful sense of calm. Maybe the crunching of your boots in the snow, and the heightened sound of your breath creating a foggy mist around your face, but that’s about it.
It’s that quiet that often brings to mind my favourite childhood snow memory.
I was about 12 years old. In those days, we didn’t have cellphones, so quiet, surreptitious texting was only a dream (it’s absolutely unfair that today’s youngsters don’t have to spend a half-hour fretting over calling a girl and figuring out what to say if her dad answers). So, if you were being sneaky, you had to plan ahead.
A girl who happened to briefly be the object of my gnat-like attention span at the time lived a few streets away. In those days, that might as well have been 100 miles. We decided earlier on that Saturday evening (she phoned and I managed to answer myself, sparing everyone the parental tomfoolery) we were going to sneak out in the middle of the night and go for a walk in the snow. We’d meet at the railway tracks at 2 a.m.
Hardly Romeo and Juliet material, but still heady stuff for a 12-year-old.
I set my alarm (yes, I’m so old it was an actual ringing alarm clock, which in this case I kept under the blanket so as not to wake anyone else). I had a basement bedroom at the time, and before I went to bed, made sure the required doors and gates were left open a crack to eliminate unnecessary noise.
As I left the yard, the aforementioned crunching in the snow seemed like the loudest jackhammer in the world. I saw the lights on in one house, so I had to cut through a backyard to avoid being spotted. I got to the tracks, and was overwhelmed by the sense of quiet that I love to this day. I have never been so absolutely aware of my surroundings.
After a couple of solitary minutes, the sense of joy turned to “what if there are some snow-monster weirdos out here just looking for an idiot like me?”— but then I heard some more crunching.
Coming toward me, covered in about 100 layers of clothing and a full balaclava, but still quite a sight, was my late-night snow-walking partner.
We didn’t really say much, just crunched along the tracks, hand-in-gloved-hand for about 15 minutes, then decided it was probably time to head home.
We also went back to pretty much ignoring each other on the Monday when school resumed, as was the custom of the day.
Shortest innocent hookup ever.
But still a fun snow memory.
Philip Wolf is the managing editor for the Vancouver Island Free Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.vifreedaily.com for details on how to download the VIFD app.