The Norman Transcript

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December 29, 2013

Drumming along on Christmas Eve

NORMAN — This is not a story about a Red Ryder BB Gun. Neither is it a story about the magical way our family’s Christmas tree looked surrounded by brightly wrapped packages on Christmas morning when I was a boy of 12 — although that was certainly the case.

It is, instead, about a song I once heard in my head back one Christmas Eve — a song and a moment to never be forgotten.

I grew up in a land of deep snow winters — very deep. So deep, in fact, that after the county snow plows came through the narrow, backwood winding roads where our family’s farm was located, it wasn’t unusual for my sister and I the next morning to have miles of rows of new snow banks — some higher than a one-story building to play in.

They were so tall that from the summit, you could actually look down on the roof of the school bus. We’d dig complexes of tunnel systems all through them with multiple openings laying out inner chambers in all directions — some even having anterooms or maybe shelves excavated out of the walls. The snow responded like moist clay.

But the best project we ever completed — the architectural wonder of my youth — happened just prior to Christmas 1965. After we finished the inside, we’d sat down together on the bank across the road to marvel at the disjointed chain of some nine or 10 different circular entrances. It looked like one of those ancient cliff dwellings or maybe a gigantic drift of Swiss cheese.

On top of that one, we constructed an intricate fortification with parapets and ramparts. It was capped off with a huge terrace wide enough to park a car, that is, if anyone could have ever managed to get their car up on top of a 15-foot snow bank.

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