This week we welcome Carla Olson Gade to Author Memories.
A native New Englander, Carla Olson Gade grew up in an historic Massachusetts town and now lives in rural Maine with her husband and two young adult sons. Her love for writing and eras gone by turned her attention to writing historical Christian romance.
Carla enjoys graphic design, photography, history, and genealogy. And she loves the snow, except when it gets dirty by the end of the winter. Throughout the years, Carla has taught workshops on Biblical topics, genealogy, writing, and adult literacy.
Romancing the Snow
by Carla Olson Gade
Marked by the imaginative or emotional appeal of what is
heroic, adventurous, remote, mysterious, or idealized.
A native New Englander, I am no stranger to snow. As a child, I always looked forward to that first snow which seemed like a miracle to me. Catching snowflakes on my tongue as they drifted down from the heavens. Tunneling through snow banks taller than I. We made snow forts and snowmen, and would slide for hours on end down steep hills. It was always worth the long trip climbing back to the top, in snow up to our knees, just to go down one more time. When our mittens were soaked, and feet nearly frozen, we’d go in for a cup of hot chocolate, put on fresh mittens and dry socks and head back outside. We’d make snow angels and imagine that they mysteriously appeared in the unscathed landscape. Or so it seemed. Snow always made everything look fresh and new. Pure, and like a dream. A blank palette for a romantic imagination such as mine.
“As the last belated cloud legions...were passing overhead...they
contribute a few more choice examples of snow crystal architecture
as souvenirs of the skill of the Divine Artist.”
~ Wilson A. "Snowflake" Bentley
Snow, like a story, begins with something so small and delicate and can transform into a wonderland. Like the uniqueness of every individual snowflake, we too, have our own experiences, memories, and stories to be told. Like the times I picnicked beneath the shelter of a bowing pine covered in snow. Desiring to recreate this memory with my own sons when they were young, we took a picnic a short distance from our home following a blizzard. All bundled up, we carried a thermos of cocoa and peanut butter crackers and found a spot underneath a snowy pine. The cozy moment did not last long upon my realization that a badger was snuggled within the trunk of the tree. We let this sleepy creature lay in his wintery cocoon.
In the 19th century, Currier and Ives gave us images of a romantic New England winters with landscapes of sloping hills of snow, ice skating, and horse drawn sleighs. With every picture, I see a story and often long to put words to the scenes portrayed. This notion is cemented for me further as my great-grandfather Amos Currier was a cousin to the famed lithographer Nathaniel Currier. I know that the scenes were often inspired by true events and the culture of rural New England that my ancestors experienced.
"The Road, Winter", N. Currier, 1853
Another ancestral cousin, poet John Greenleaf Whittier, put imagery to pen when he wrote Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyl
in 1866. The poem recounts his childhood memories of being secluded in their stormy haven, as his family gathered by the warmth of the fireside hearth to hear legends of old, including those of our shared ancestors. Snow-Bound
was one of the most popular publications of its day, lending much to the nostalgia for which good folk longed.
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All day the gusty north-wind bore
The loosening drift its breath before;
Low circling round its southern zone,
Through dazzling snow-mist shone. . .
And, when the second morning shone,
We looked upon a world unknown,
On nothing we could call our own. . .
Carla Olson Gade: My mother and grandfather on a sleigh ride in 1942.
“There is something soft and tender in the fall of a single snow-flake,
but when it comes out crawling out in the morning and shoveling
away a big drift, it’s ornery, mean and disgusting.”
~ G.L. Adams, The Fowlerville Review, 1879
Each generation has its own recollections, some more romantic than others. The romance is often a myth. Nostalgia at its best. Choosing to hold on to the best memories. Or, looking to the past to redeem a treasure from the deep. Like snow angels and sledding instead of shoveling mountains of heavy wet snow, trudging through the blizzard with a pail of water and grain to feed our horse, recalling the concussion my brother got when the toboggan slammed straight into a tree. Despite the temporary hardships that are endured by so many during nature’s most alarming furies, I must confess that to spend an evening reading by the light of an oil lamp, a candle, or the soft glow of the fireplace, kindles my imagination like nothing else. And, thus, it was for me in my 16th year, during the famed northeast “Blizzard of 1978.”
Hailed the "Storm of the Century," the February blizzard dumped over 27 inches of snow on the Boston area, my family residing directly in its path. The Commonwealth was immobilized and many, like our family were left without heat, electricity, and telephone. The snow drifts were so deep that we could see but 6 inches of antenna of our car which was at the bottom of our driveway. It felt as though we were trapped inside our house, but the sun shone and we ventured outdoors to dig out after the two day storm. I recall walking uptown on the snowy streets, absent of vehicles, dragging our sled so we could return with groceries; providing any stores were open in our small community. Our historic town with clapboard homes and steepled church was clad in white. So picturesque, surreal even, like a Currier and Ives scene. And so pleasant, as many typically reserved New England neighbors greeted one another along the way. And though many were trapped on the interstate by the snowy onslaught and cities shut down for a week, I cling to my own experiences. But I could never keep from wondering how a great snow would affect those who lived in earlier times. Though their lives were not reliant on electricity and such, tremendous snow still created significant hardship . . . and perhaps other romantic notions.
18th century woodblock print depicting The Great Snow of 1717.
I’ll leave you with a true tale of my 9th great-grandparents Abraham Adams & Abigail Peirce who endured “The Great Snow” of 18th century Massachusetts.
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The year 1717 “is rendered memorable, by the unusual quantity of snow, which fell on the twentieth and twenty-fourth of February. In these two storms, the earth was covered with snow, from ten to fifteen feet, and, in some places, to twenty feet, deep. Many one-story houses were covered, and, in many places, paths were dug, from house to house, under the snow. Many visits were made, from place to place, by means of snow shoes, the wearers having first stepped out of their chamber windows, on these excursions. ‘Love,’ we know, ‘laughs at locksmiths,’ and, of course, will disregard a snow-drift. Tradition informs us, that a Mr. Abraham Adams, wishing to visit his ‘ladye love,’ Miss Abigail Peirce, mounted his snow shoes, took a three miles’ walk, for that purpose, and entered her residence as he left his own, namely, by the chamber window. He was the first person the family had seen from abroad, for more than a week. Cotton Mather has left in writing a particular account of ‘the great snow,’ and the many marvels and prodigies attending it.”
(From: A Sketch of the History of Newbury, Newburyport, and West Newbury, from 1635 to 1845 By Joshua Coffin, Joseph Bartlett, 1845)
“As mighty a snow, as perhaps has been known
in the memory of man, is at this time lying on the ground.”
~ Cotton Mather, early American preacher and historian
Carla Olson Gade: My ancestor’s home in Newbury, MA (Spencer-Peirce-Little House, c. 1690 which was covered in snow up to the second floor in 1717. Photo courtesy: Karen Lynch. http://www.karenlynchphotos.com/
Have you ever been in a blizzard or other great snow?
Leave a comment with a valid email address by midnight, Nov 11th
to be entered to win a copy of Carla's giveaway,
Carving a Future by Carla Olson Gade
Barbour Publishing, October 2012
Unexpected adventure catches the Ingersoll
brothers by surprise-and brings unexpected love into their lives. Nathaniel has his sights set on becoming a master figurehead carver, until he risks everything for a woman. Jonathan's merchant trade and his new love are in jeopardy from a brother's animosity. Micah expects to settle down to peace after a life of fighting on the frontier but finds a young woman hiding from an abductor. Alden is press-ganged into tending an ailing naval captain, then catches sight of the captain's fetching niece. Will the unexpected end in four courtships?
The novella collection begins with Carving a Future
, set in 1753. Ship figurehead carver Nathaniel Ingersoll has apprenticed for many years under his Uncle Phineas and hopes to become a master ship carver in his own right. Indentured servant Constance Starling arrives on the Connecticut coast too ill for anyone to accept. Has Nathaniel jeopardized the future he has worked hard to achieve for the welfare of a weakly servant?
Carla is the author of the Heartsongs Presents novel, The Shadow Catcher's Daughter, as well as the novella “Carving a Future” in Colonial Courtships. Carla is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.
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