Snow Days with Lanie

Alien Caterpillar

The series of snowfalls we’ve had lately remind me of some of my favorite Lanie snow memories.
One winter when she was in high school, we went to visit my brother Tim, who had a place on Bryce Mountain.  He and his family lived in Leesburg and came to Bryce often, so they were all good skiers, but Lanie had never skied.  So I set her up with a beginner’s lesson and sat back to enjoy and watch as she discovered the sport.  My sister-in-law Judy wasn’t skiing that day either, so we just sat in the sun chatting as the kids headed up the slopes.
Well, let’s just say that Lanie did not enjoy her first skiing experience (which turned out to be her last).  Even the beginner slopes were apparently a bit icy that day, and on Lanie’s very first slow and cautious run she lost control and collided spectacularly with an older woman and sent her flying.  Lanie was absolutely mortified, and swore to me that she’d tried it, not liked it, and was done with skiing for good.
But she was not done with snow — not by a long shot.  During her junior or senior year of college, she was home on Christmas break when we got a nice January snowfall, and began nagging me from the time I got up in the morning to join her for some snow play. I was in the middle of some reading I wanted to finish, but finally relented and we went to build a snow man.
Trouble was, even though we were able to roll up some good-sized balls of snow to form the snowman’s torso, the snow was too mushy and wouldn’t hold together when we tried to place the torso atop the base. Lanie was undeterred, as always, so we simply switched gears and transformed the snowman into a snow caterpillar. We made more giant snow balls and lined them up in a snake-like pattern in the front yard, then gathered stones and sticks to form the caterpillar’s face, and feathery branches to form the antennae.
Because the antennae were a bit odd and oversized, we decided this was clearly a mutant or alien caterpillar, and gave him a few more strange features … all the while laughing at how our neighbors were going to pass by and wonder, as always, just what WAS that creature in our front yard? And the eternal question: just what is WRONG with those crazy Kruszewskis?
But my favorite snow story that stars Lanie took place on a winter day when I was feeling really crappy — I may have even had the flu — and was in no shape to go out and play despite Lanie’s wish for a snow buddy.   So she headed out to the front yard on her own, where I assumed she was building a snowman.  Instead, she came inside half an hour later and said she had something to show me.
It wasn’t a snowman at all — it was a love note.  Lanie had spent half an hour tromping in the snow so she could spell out the message “I (heart) Mom” with her tracks.
The picture of my snowy get-well card hangs in my kitchen to this day.

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One thought on “Snow Days with Lanie

  1. Rick Barlow says:

    Hi Mrs. Kruszewski,

    It’s January 21st 2016 the eve before the snow storm is to hit Richmond. Standing in line at a small coffee shop in Richmond I noticed a yellow bumper sticker in memory of Lanie and it had the http://www.lanie.me address listed on it. I sat back down and proceeded to go to the site. I read your last entry – as an avid cyclist and a father of 4 – the story of your daughter Lanie has always touched me. Leaving the house today my wife reminded me that the snow is coming (knowing that I am not a fan of snow). Reading the story of Lanie and you making the Caterpillar put a smile to my face and made me realize the small things that make life important. I hope this message finds you well and please know that there are people that think of your daughter everyday. Thank you for the inspiration.

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