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Four Years at the Mount

Let it Snow!

(December, 2012)

Freshman Year:  Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Lydia Olsen
Class of 2015

The best days are the ones when I have to put on layers. On these cold winter days, it is a procedure for me to leave the house because I have to put on a long sleeve shirt, a sweatshirt, a jacket, two pairs of pants that swish when I walk, three pairs of socks, fuzzy earmuffs, a scarf and winter gloves to stay warm. The bulk of the clothing slows me down but when I finally make it from my room to the front door and step outside, I am completely satisfied. The car windshields are covered with frost. The grass has iced over and crunches under my boots. I watch my breath disappear into the air along with the smoke from the chimneys. The greatest part of it all is the indescribable smell of the crisp, cold weather that turns my nose red. It is a smell beyond compare because it promises approaching snow. My favorite winter memory begins on one of these days. It was a day that I will always remember, a day when the falling of snow was inevitable.

Winter mornings seem to be more difficult than mornings during any other time of the year. Combining a winter morning with the darkness of Daylight Saving Time cries out as a recipe for disaster, at least for me. You see, itís not that I have trouble with the actual waking up part of the mornings. I have never been one who hits snooze or begs for five more minutes. For me, the hardest part of waking up on a winter morning is just getting out of bed. Being tucked in the warmth of the blankets is much more appealing than rolling over and having the frigid hardwood floor greet my bare feet. I would much rather just lie awake in bed and avoid beginning my day until the last possible minute.

This inward debate is exactly what was happening one day last December. When I finally got the nerve to pull off my covers and get ready for school, I was completely behind schedule. I rushed around chaotically as I got dressed for the winter weather. I exchanged I love youís with my mom as I stood hesitantly at my front door trying to muster up the courage to brave the cold outside. Ultimately, I had no choice but to run through the morning darkness to my car. Blasting the heat in that old Camry was pointless, but I banged my gloved hands helplessly on the dial anyway. Somehow it always seemed to kick in as soon as I got into the school parking lot, but thatís just my luck. When I ran into school on these cold winter days, I praised the warm air that hit my face as I passed through the maroon and gray doors.

The rumor of snow circulated quickly throughout the halls, like any other high school gossip did. Some of us got our hopes up more than others, but when the first flurries were spotted through the windows, we all became optimistic. By the time second period approached, it became clear that we would be having an early dismissal! Once this became known, it was nearly impossible for the teachers to calm us down or get us to pay attention. All 2,600 students waited in anticipation for our release. When the time came to leave, we all ran outside with excitement. We danced around in the parking lot as the flurries lingered in our hair and attached to our winter jackets. We embraced in our enthusiasm before we headed home.

When I arrived back at my house, my mom and I eagerly watched the snow as it accumulated quickly on the grass, and more importantly on the roads. My mom is a third grade teacher. She is great at what she does and is highly respected and admired among the community and her co-workers. But like children, we keenly awaited the cancellation of school. After all, who doesnít love a snow day?

When the word eventually came that evening that there would not be school the next day, my mom and I were overjoyed. Our cheers filled the house; however, the phone call did not come until almost midnight. It was late at night but we were both so wide awake with excitement that there was no way we could go to bed. My mom, being the adventurous type, asked me to go on a walk with her. I smiled and went to put on more layers.

Bundled up, we stepped outside into what felt like the arctic tundra. All around us the trees held snow where their leaves had once been. The grass had vanished and was replaced by a perfect blanket. Neighboring house lights allowed the snow to glisten. Everything was peaceful. All the commotion of daily life was suddenly silenced and it seemed as though time stood still. With our gloved fingers intertwined, we strolled through the streets. As we traveled, we left footprints in the snow that were quietly covered behind us. Mesmerized by the pureness around us, we breathed in our surroundings. The neighborhood was mysterious in the darkness of night but was captivating in the beauty it obtained once it was covered in a sheet of white. There is something magical about snow. Whether it is through coldness that it has the ability to bring people together, or whether it is something more, my mom and I bonded while we walked in a wonderland that night. Upon returning to our house, we decided to disrupt the flawless snow in our front yard. We agreed to make a snowman and took off our boots as we rushed inside to gather the necessities.

Meeting back in the snow, we quickly became aware that this was not going to be an average snowman, but we continued on anyway. We rolled our snowballs until they fit our satisfaction. We constructed the body of the snowman and then moved onto the accessories. Our snowman acquired a bucket hat, Oreo eyes, a paint stirrer nose, an M&M smile, rock buttons, oversized pencil arms, and a plaid scarf to complete his look. My mom and I looked at each other and smiled. We were completely pleased with our finished creation and we headed inside for the night. When we woke up on our snow day, we once again took a walk outside. We admired the snowman in our yard that literally appeared overnight. He was far from perfect or even ordinary, but he had character, thatís for sure!

With the heart of winter approaching, the smell of snow lingers longer in the air. Along with the smell comes the remembrance of my favorite memory involving an early dismissal, a winter walk, and an unforgettable snowman. As the weather gets colder every day, I find myself waiting impatiently for the flurries to begin to fall. In anticipation, I wait to hear my mom ask me that question that promises an adventure. Do you want to take a walk?

Read other articles by Lydia Olsen

Sophomore Year: Magic is in the air

Kyle Ott
MSM Class of 2015

I donít know what it is about snow, but no matter how old you get there is something absolutely magical about the flurries of white powder that fall from the sky when the temperature drops below a balmy 32 degrees. Perhaps itís the fact that as children, we would look at the world outside on Christmas and see the snow and as we watched it fall, our innocent minds forever fused the magic of Christmas with the soft snow in the sky. Or maybe it was the fact that snow had the power to get us off school or work. Whole days could be spent in our pajamas because the weather had decided to slow our world of steady progress to a grinding halt. It gave us an easy excuse to spend time with our friends and family, to shirk the cultural guilt associated with doing nothing and just "being" for a change.

Or maybe, just maybe itís the simple idea that snow can change everything. Think about it. The avenues we travel every day, the old buildings that we pass by every morning, even something as familiar as our backyard can be utterly altered by the falling snow. Itís the one natural event that doesnít just affect our world around us, but our perceptions of that world. The way that snow clings to the trees, illuminating an entire forest in a cool clean whiteness, the simple freshness of the air after snowfall, these things as well as many others create a veritable wonderland that has fascinated and enamored us for generations.

Last year, on Halloween Weekend I woke to find that my entire world at Mount St Maryís University had been covered in a gentle but constant dusting of snow. It clung to the eaves of buildings, squatted in gutters, lined the roads in large heaps and made the rolling ground of our campus into a beautiful almost flat land. I woke to my roommate pulling on his leather shoes, a T-Shirt and shorts and exclaiming, "Weíre going sledding!" as he tossed me a tray from Patriot dining hall that had somehow found its way into our room. I should have known then that it was going to be a wild day. Without bothering to change out of my PJís, I threw my sneakers on as fast as my hands would allow and sprinted down the stairs with my roommate to the small hill outside of Pangborn Hall. We climbed up, using what had been a staircase before the snowfall and jumped onto our trays, hoping to slide gracefully down to the bottom. We got the sliding part right; we tumbled from our makeshift sleds almost as quickly as we had climbed on, rolling to the bottom of the hill. At the bottom, we discovered our bodies were covered in cold, wet snow.

Having both overestimated the ability of our makeshift vehicles and the ability of shorts and thin PJís to keep the cold out, we sprinted into the hall hoping to find warmth. We immediately ran to the girlsí hall in the hopes that some kind hearts would spare some hot cocoa. We limped in looking bedraggled and freezing and our friends gave us an amazing greeting. As we lay underneath the radiator, they brought out cocoa and mugs, a large fleece blanket and a laptop complete with a movie. My friend and I laid our trays in the middle of the hall and allowed our friends to pamper us into a state of luxury. We had a blanket, food, and a movie full of chase scenes and explosions; nothing could have roused us from our reverie.

Nothing that is, except for the ringing of my cell phone. I answered unsure of who would be calling me on such a strange snowy day and a little frustrated that my impromptu relaxing session would be interrupted. "Hello?" my voice sounded so strange after the sound of the special effects and the loud slurping of warm drink. "Hi Kyle!" My aunt Kathy was calling from her minivan, which at that very moment was on its way to my residence hall. My mind recalled a conversation over Facebook a few weeks prior. My aunt had been asking about bringing my three cousins, Shannon, Anna and Justin to visit the campus and most importantly, visit me. "Weíre almost there!" she exclaimed. I looked at my still moist clothing, my tasseled hair and the fact that I was laying on the floor of the girls hall under a fleece blanket clutching a steaming coffee mug for dear life. "Awesome," I said, trying to cover up the fact that I would be playing the situation with all my improvisational skill. "I will see you soon!" With that, I left my friends behind and flew up to my room to hastily prepare for my aunt and three little cousins.

Well, my aunt arrived without incident and found her oldest nephew put together and dressed by the time she arrived. After a brief tour of the campus with my family in tow, my aunt revealed that she was taking me out to dinner, which for a young starving college kid is incredibly exciting. As we made our way from my room to the parking lot, I picked up a clump of snow and lobbed it playfully at Shannon, the oldest of my three cousins. This caused the others to laugh and pick up clumps of snow and begin throwing them at my face. What ensued was a full-on snowball fight between my three cousins and me. We ducked behind cars, leaped over snow banks and slid through slush in an epic impromptu battle to the finish.

To this day I cannot think about snow without thinking about the way the day when my world was turned from a snow-covered school into a white wonderland. Hopefully your December is full of snow and adventures. Iím Kyle Ott, wonít you sit and read for a while?

Read other articles by Kyle Ott

Junior Year: The Little Sled that Could

Nicole Jones
Class of 2014

Snow. That simple word brings forth so many memories from the far reaches of my dusty mind. I remember playing with my cousins in the backyard when I was around twelve, creating the largest possible snow boulder Ė it was at least as tall as the sides of our above ground pool. I remember building a snow man reclining on a lounge chair on our front porch. I remember Snowmageddon and being out of school for a week my senior year of high school. Perhaps one of my fondest memories, though, is of the very common childhood adventure of sledding.

Before we moved onto the farm where I live now, my family used to live in a more suburban area. The yard was very flat and therefore not a sledding paradise. To compensate, my father would always take me and my older brother to a local hillside at the Western Maryland College golf course for some proper sledding terrain. The hill was, and still is, a popular sledding location. Overlooking the collegeís track field, itís never had much of a view, but it makes up for it with a steep incline.

The dynamics of the hill could be divided up into three basic groups: those who climbed part of the way, those who climbed all the way, and the stunt attempters. The "part-way-ers" usually consisted of families with younger children. The protective parents tended to stay closer to the bottom of the hill, going just high enough to let the child sled, but not so high that the sled would speed out of control. "All-the-way-ers" were families with older or more daring children who headed to the top of the hill, just inside the tree line that graced the peak. It was a steeper, longer walk, but well worth the long, fast ride down the hill. The "stunt attempters" were often a group of young men attempting to snowboard Ėusually not very well.

My family has always been of the "all-the-way" classification. I trudged up the hill in line behind my family. My brother carried a black sled, my father had a boogie board, and I followed up the group in my pink snow pants, dragging a bright red sled behind me. My mom was less daring, and would usually take a spectator position Ė probably awaiting any injuries to come sliding straight into her arms.

The snow was usually properly packed down by the time my family arrived. Other families had already conquered the terrain, packing down any powdery snow into a tight sheet of icy track begging to be put to use. Of course, this also made the climb to the top much harder. The designated foot path was by then full of pot holes, ruts, and hundreds of footprints which had sufficiently churned what was once a smooth, white blanket into a bumpy, frozen wasteland.

At least three stumbles were required to earn your place at the top of the hill. Only the proficient dared to run the path. Many failed. Some were unlucky enough to slide down on their stomachs when they lost their footing and had to restart the arduous journey to the top. Others would stumble and regain their balance but lose grip of their slide. They could do little but watch as the piece of plastic slid quickly away from them, knowing that turning back was the only other option.

The survivors bore their burden in silence. All cheerful chatter ceased until the top was reached and an easy breath could be taken. The successful were able to stand at the summit and look out over the conquered hillside, reveling in their accomplishment and eager for what was to come.

After my family reached the top, we took such a moment of pause, catching our breath and watching the specks below us playing in the snow. Then we set about finding the perfect take off point. My father found a spot just inside the tree line, the highest you could go. Only the brave would dare it. He analyzed the area. It was well packed, no trees blocked the exit from the woods, and none were waiting at the bottom. Satisfied, my brother was allowed to go first. He took his position on his black sled, shoved off and flew down the hill side. My father and I watched, waiting for him to reach the bottom, and shouted in triumph when he did.

I was next. I positioned my little red sled and sat squarely on the seat. My hands wrapped around the rope handle like a vice. A moment of hesitation, then I dove down the hill side. I was unable to hear anything but the wind roaring past my ears. My eyes watered from the cold air hitting my face, and my mouth froze in a large grin, when all of sudden Ė Houston, we have a problem.

A group of "stunt attempters" lingered to my right, just off the high traffic sledding zone. Their misguided attempt at mastering the snowboard led them to build a small two-foot jump out of snow. Presumably, a simple enough task for a snowboarder, but an unanticipated obstacle for a young sledder catapulting down the hill side.

I yanked on the rope and leaned to the left, trying to redirect my sled, but it was too late. All I could do was shout and wave the snowboarders out of my way. I closed my eyes, thinking I was certainly going to collide with one of them. I opened them to see the faces of five teenage boys watching in awe as my little red sled soared over the jump, landing with a sharp thud on the other side.

I heard cheering follow me down the hillside, but I could only feel the instant bruise on my bottom. Amazingly, my sled didnít crack on impact, and I drifted to an easy stop at the bottom of the hill. My dad soon slid to a stop beside me, roaring with laughter. "You went straight for it!" he said in between chuckles. Trust me, I didnít mean to.

Iíve since had many more snow adventures, and while this one will always stand out because of the unique circumstances, I cherish each memory. Whether itís because weíre snowed in for a couple days or weíve gone out of our way for a sledding adventure, each snow memory has one thing in common Ė itís a time Iíve spent with my family and friends. As far as Iím concerned, each memory with them is just one more reason to love snow.

Read other articles by Nicole Jones

Senior Year: Weekend Winter Morning

Samantha Strub
Class of 2013

A cold crisp wind blew against our faces as the 4-wheeler made its way down the pasture over the top of the snow. The bitter coldness made what would be an enjoyable trip on the 4-wheeler unbelievably miserable. Any part of your body not covered was affected immediately. The two of us were bundled almost from head to toe. Only our eyes and cheeks were showing at any given moment except when we needed to take off our gloves because we needed our fingers to get the correct grip. The rest of our body was as covered as possible with everything from Carhartt overalls on top of our jeans to jackets, long sleeves, sweatshirts, hats, neck warmers, warm work gloves, and insolated boots. This seems excessive, but it was vital to surviving the bitter temperatures.

Normally this get-up is enough, but not on this crisp winter morning when the temperature was below zero and the wind was strong and bitter. The two of us worked our best at staying out of the wind while we were doing chores, but we had no choice. We had to feed hay. We feed up against the side of the barn and in the shelters in order to give the horses their hay and protect them as much as possible from the wind. There was not enough space to have protection for all of the horses. As the two of us moved out into the open pasture, the bitter wind was immediately hitting us as we drove the 4-wheeler and the hay trailer into position. As the wind was pounding against us, we spread the hay out around the fence for the 30 horses that were at the barn. We struggled with the bales of hay, praying and hoping that the twine would not become tangled and we would have to take off our gloves while braving the elements. The snow was lightly falling but with the wind it felt like a blizzard and we were unable to enjoy it. Haying seemed to take forever, but it really only took about 20 minutes. It was a challenge to move and spread out the bales, but this is routine.

As Noelle and I spread the bales, I wondered why on earth I was out at the barn in below zero temperatures. Why do I come out early on Saturday and Sunday mornings to feed the horses? Why was I freezing with my toes, fingers, and nose growing numb? Why wasnít I laying under the covers in my warm bed like normal people do on weekends? Well, it has been known for a long time that Noelle and I are not normal. We are horse lovers. We do chores even in the bitter cold so we are able to pay board in order to ride. We do this because we love it.

Once we were done haying we had stalls to clean. Most likely surprising to many of the readers, this was an enjoyable part of the morning for us. For one, it was warm in the barn and since the doors were closed, it was protected from the wind. Second, there were no horses to interrupt us from drinking warm coffee. Third, this was our prime talking time and we could also listen to music. Lastly, we could finally warm up and regain feeling back in our toes. We turned on the radio and grabbed our coffees, sipping them as we got the wheelbarrow and forks and began to clean stalls. We didnít stop to sit down because we were sure we would freeze if we did. In the process of cleaning stalls, we warmed up, which is a good thing because we still had riding to do.

Once we were all done we got a refill of coffee and our tack and grooming supplies. We braced ourselves for walking out into the bitter wind and snow. To our wonderful surprise, the wind had died down a little bit. This was a relief because as Noelle and I walked outside, we saw the snow clinging to the trees and creating a spotless blanket across the pasture. This filled us with great excitement. If only the wind would truly die down. We brought our horses back in and got warm drinking coffee and grooming our horses. It is a relaxing tradition and we both become lost in our own world as we groom and tack our horses.

Once the horses were tacked, it was the moment that we were the least excited for: taking off our Carhartt overalls. We left our jackets on but we had to take off the overalls in order to ride. Sadly, we wouldnít be able to ride properly if we kept the warm work overalls on. We both become chilly as we donned our riding boots instead of the insulated boots and removed the Carhartt overalls. We quickly mounted our horses, double-checking that the doors were closed to block out the wind. We spent a wonderful 45 minutes or so riding in the area. We enjoyed our wonderful time of peaceful relaxation with good friends and horses.

After we had enjoyed our riding time and began to lose the feeling in our toes, Noelle suggested that we see how strong the wind was. I knew what was on her mind and we eagerly looked outside. The wind has died down, almost to the point where it was non-existent. We had renewed energy and our horses were feeding off of our energy and starting to become inpatient while we opened the gate. Have you guessed it yet? We were going on a pasture run to disrupt the peaceful stillness of the snow-white pastures. If you are a horse person, you know what a thrill it is to go out on a pasture run. For those of you who do not know, it is an unbelievable feeling of freedom, strength, energy and beauty. It is an exhilarating feeling. We made sure there was nothing laying around in the area that the horses would destroy and then we walked off into the pasture. We waited until we got out of the other horsesí way and then with a simple look at each other, we gave our horses the signal and off we flew.

We flew across the pasture, enjoying the freedom and the escape that it gives us. The wind seemed to have picked up and it blew against our faces, making our noses and whole face cold. Our wonderful horses were flying us away to another world. We were escaping reality and moving across the snow-white stillness of the pasture. We flew around the pasture a couple of times until the raptures wore off and we realized we needed to go in before we caught cold. It was a wonderful feeling as we rode our horses back into the area where some of the horses had taken refuge. Noelle and I had huge smiles on our faces knowing that that pasture run was exactly what we needed. We brought our horses into the barn and untacked and showered them with treats as they trotted off happily to finish their breakfast.

As Noelle and I began to move in order to gather the grooming supplies and tack we realized that our limbs and faces no longer had feeling. It hurt to walk and put pressure our feet. Painfully, we put everything away and swept the aisle. We gathered our now empty coffee mugs and climbed into the car. Looking at each other we knew only two things would make this day complete: Starbucks and breakfast.

Read other articles by Samantha Strub

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