Ice crystal blossoms on our apple tree. Jan. 2021.

I have lived in northern climates all my life and I don’t think I could ever be a snowbird who “flies” south for the winter. I enjoy the change of seasons. I really like winters and have many fond memories of snowstorms past. Probably the earliest snowstorm I remember was a storm in February 1961when I was ten years old. This storm is still listed as one of the ten worst snowstorms for New Jersey — 20+ inches. The snow was so deep that it called a halt to all activity in my hometown of Hoboken. The streets were impassable for several days. What I remember the most is that my mother was worried because we were running out of milk, a basic need in a family with small children. (My youngest siblings were only three years old at the time.) The nearest grocery stores were unable to receive grocery deliveries, but my mother was able to determine that milk was available at the other end of town — near the main transporation routes, which must have been kept clear. So she persuaded my aunt to trudge downtown with me for milk. Hoboken is known as the “Mile-Square City” so our journey was about a mile going and coming through snow piled more than two feet high. I thought the treck was a fun adventure. I doubt that my aunt did.

A second memorable snowstorm occurred in Feburary 1969 during my fresham year at Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. Remembered as the “Nor’easter of ‘69,” this storm, which dumped about 26 inches of snow on central Massachusetts, is still listed as one of the ten worst blizzards in central Mass. history. The storm was so bad that it closed the Holy Cross campus down for most of a week — a very rare occurence for a residential college. The timing was especially unfortunate because the college, which was all-male at the time, had invited women from nearby colleges to spend a week on campus as a “co-ed experiment.” The guys in one of the freshman dorms (not mine!) had to vacate their rooms for the women and spend the week with buddies elsewhere on campus. The women came but with classes cancelled, the co-ed experiment was not quite what the Jesuits had planned….. As for me, I came down with a bad flu that week and spend several days following the storm in the college infirmary, so my memories of the co-ed experiment are minimal.

Another memorable winter for me was my first in western Illinois, in 1984–85. We had moved from Washington DC to Monmouth and I vividly recall that the first snow fell on Dec. 4, 1984 and snow remained on the ground until mid-March. At the time the EW main road into town (Il Route 34) was a two lane country road (since replaced by a much improved divided highway). For most of that winter the snow was piled so high on either side of the road that it was like driving in a snow tunnel. And I know I’d never experienced such cold weather before, with sub-zero temperatures (F.). At least twice that winter the snow and ice was so bad that all the road in and out of town were closed and Monmouth was isolated from the rest of the world. One time we actually put up one of my colleagues from the Math Dept who lived down in Macomb, thirty miles south of Monmouth, and couldn’t get home. I am surprised, frankly, that we decided to stay in Monmouth after that winter. Fortunately, I don’t think we’ve had another winter like that one since.

This winter was pretty mild at first but for several weeks now we have had a series of small snow falls which have resulted in significant accumulation. There are now four foot high piles of snow along our driveway. And it has been pretty cold, down into the single digits. But this winter has also been beautiful with several days of outstanding hoarfrost on the trees. I took the picture of ice crystals on our apple tree (see above) in early January.

No Florida for me in winter. I would miss the snow.



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Tom Sienkewicz

I taught Classics for 40+ years and am now Capron Professor Emeritus of Classics at Monmouth College in Illinois. Read more about me at