Across three miles of snow piled roads we trek to our school. Or if the banks are hard enough we cut across the fields which is a little shorter. Inside a closed in sleigh we call a cutter – we have no heat, but are sheltered from the wind. I think we were more fortunate than our horse. He is outside, struggling to conquer the snow drifts. Snow piles in front of cutter. He hesitates, then with supreme effort continues to plow through. It is slow going. This is how we go to school. We don’t know there are other ways to go. All the children in the neighborhood travel in this manner. We do know that our family has the longest way to go. But cold is cold whether you are outside for fifteen minutes or over an hour. Some walked and that would be so much more difficult I think. I am grateful we have horses.
Sometimes, my parents keeps us home if it is storming or too cold. We miss many days of school some winters. But what we learn at home is very important too.
When we travel we wear fur coats and do not think we are harming animals like I sometimes hear now. We have blankets to bundle beneath in the cutter. When only the younger ones are going to school – if we are too late – our dad meets us. If a storm is brewing or it is getting too dark, he meets us.
Sometimes wolves follow us if the horse flounders too much in the snowbanks. We don’t realize we should be scared. We aren’t ever told to be scared. We are taught to keep the horse moving and stay inside. I peek out the front small window and watch the lean, dark forms running along side the sleigh. I find wolves fascinating, with glinting eyes and shaggy, silky fur. So long as the horse is moving, they do not come close. They look like beautiful dogs. But I know they aren’t.
Later I learn my mother’s fear of sending her babies out into the cold. I see where once again she never let us know of her fear. Once we no longer go out into the winter’s freezing temperatures, we learn that our skin can freeze after a moment or two in the temperatures we endure. Since we don’t know this I guess – we don’t get frost-bit going to school. Although we do know one of our uncles once lost the tip of his ear from frost-bite. It teaches us caution, but never the idea we can’t do it. We must – it is how we go to school.
I also learn to question all that is said or written by others. Some people find this facet annoying. But truth is an important part of life. I learn anyone can say anything they want – true or not. I do enjoy fiction stories including writing them. But the difference between fiction and reality is important to me.