Winter was a new experience after we moved to the farm from Black Lake.


It seemed colder, longer, and more isolating.  We couldn't run across the street to meet our friends for a day of ice skating or sledding.  There was no large group of kids to play with as we waited for the school bus.  Our closest neighbors were now a quarter of a mile away.


My brother and sister and I waited alone in the cold at the top of our driveway for the school bus.  We did have hills to slide on, but no lake for skating or fishing--the closest ice rink was five miles away in Carver.


The first winter we spent at the farm was especially difficult.


My mother developed pneumonia at Christmas time, and it took her a long while to recover.


Minnesota winters can be brutal and I remember that one as especially cold.  There were short episodes of being snowed in, waiting for several days for the county plows to get to our little road.  We all went a bit stir crazy and were more than ready for spring.


March finally rolled around.  The snow was melting and on days when the sun was shining the air hinted at warmer weather.  But March was a capricious month.


One day the breeze would be warm and balmy and you might even catch sight of a robin, the next it would be gray and threatening snow.


One Sunday afternoon while my father was trying to nap, my siblings and I were encouraged to go for a hike.  We decided on Birch Hill as our destination.  It was far enough away to keep us out of doors for several hours, but not such a lengthy walk that Cass, my sixyear-old sister, would get tired halfway there.


Things were a bit wet and muddy, but most of the snow was gone.