Brno Snowfall Reminds Me of Home

img_7635The first real snowfall of the season occurred this week in Brno, Czech Republic. Granted, the snowfall was just a dusting of maybe four inches. As it fell, the view of Špilberk Castle disappeared from my apartment’s picture glass window. Snow covered the branches of the trees and I reminisced about this time of year when winter snowfall would come to Somerset, my hometown in Western Pennsylvania in the United States

I have always thought of January differently than other months. It is a bleak time of year. Yes, the daylight hours are increasing but January also has penetrating cold and blustery winds. It is time when one’s exhaled breath drifts away in a cloud of steam. It follows the celebrations of Christmas and New Years and it seems to me to be a time for resting and recovery from them. By a burning fireplace seems to be the place of comfort.

The Brno snowfall reminded me of being a youngster, reading by the light cast from the fireplace in our house and hopes that tomorrow might bring a school closing “snow day.” Such days were not uncommon in Somerset in January. As certain as my Dad would have a fire burning to keep us warm, immense snow blizzards were normal in the Allegheny Mountains.

img_7814Similar snowfalls to the one in Brno would bring transportation and commerce to a halt in many places. But it didn’t seem to make any difference in Brno. Life was just a little inconvenienced and otherwise was quite normal. The same as when I grew up, the walkways became icy and slippery and regular shoes gave way to winter boots.

My apartment in Brno overlooks a large courtyard for the seminary next door. Children play in the snow as I did at their age. Today in the courtyard stands a snow “family” with twigs for arms and across the way is a snow fort where raging snowball battles occur. As a child I recall playing outdoors so long in January that my fingers turned numb from the cold and I am certain that several of the Czech youngsters feel that as I once had.

Snowfall at home, as it does in Brno, meant time to bring out sleds and ice skates. In Brno the smiles on the young faces are the same as parents take their children to nearby hills to enjoy an exhilarating sled ride or to find that favorite pond to skate.

unnamed-2I can recall how much fun we had as children as we went sledding  and skating until dark before heading home to dry our clothes and warm up by the fireplace along with a mug of hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows.

It is fun to watch the Czech children and reminisce about those days when we were young. My how exciting it is for me to see the kids in Brno responding to that first snowfall the same way… and restore those often forgotten memories of growing up.


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19 thoughts on “Brno Snowfall Reminds Me of Home”

  1. Really nice description, Barry! I can relate to your remarks as I know Somerset and to some extent Brno. Thank you.

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  2. A wonderful reminder for so many of us. It’s nice to know children around the world still enjoy the same things we did when we were kids.

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  3. Your description reminds us of the beauty and fun of winter snowstorms. Instead of equating snow with shoveling and shivering, you reminded us of the childlike feelings we had when snowfalls meant rosy cheeks, sledding excitedly down slopes, and making snow-covered yards our own personal playgrounds. Thank you.

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  4. Barry — I am a friend of Sue-Ann’s, and I have been following your blog. She never told me you were from Somerset County! My grandmother and mother are from there. They are part of the Bowers and Zimmerman clans living mostly around Stoystown. I’ll have to let my mom know that I ‘know’ another hometown guy! You’re a bit younger than my mom, and she and my grandparents would have likely moved out of the area before you were born. But, my great-grandmother lived there until she passed.

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  5. Loved reading this! Made me realize how beautiful a winter snow storm can really be if one takes the time to watch the snowflakes and especially to listen to the quietness.

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  6. Thanks, Barry. This was a lovely, well written piece that brought back many wonderful memories of playing with my friends in the snow back in my years growing up in Somerset. We were really blessed to have such a wonderful hometown.

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  7. Here in Vienna we had snow for a few days almost up to Christmas, but then right before that, we had a warm spell that melted the snow, and dampened the hopes for people wanting “a white Christmas.” After that it remained under freezing until last week. I assume you skated on the Catholic pond (which in has long since been drained) and the Lake Somerset when you were a kid? I remember doing that. Actually we may have met at those places without knowing each other.

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