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It’s Cold Up Here

The Barn
The Barn

As I sit in my father-in-law’s den looking out of the window covered with thick plastic wrap used to lock out the cold, I can barely make out the blurry shapes of trees and the iced over driveway. What is unmistakable are the blobs of white covering everything and they look the same from behind the plastic as they do from in front of the plastic. Without a doubt after seven or eight years of traveling to upstate New York for Christmas this is the most snow I have seen for the longest period of time ever.

On our trip up here, we began to see snow a lot further south than we normally do and it continued to get thicker and heavier each mile further north we drove. I do not intend for this to turn into a diatribe against global warming, because there’s plenty to say about that in another article some other time, however, because of the recent front that passed over the eastern portion of the United States, it is colder than I’m used to.

I was born and raised in the Deep South in the heart of Mississippi and though we laugh about our reaction to snow, I’ve never seen more than a few inches of it at one time and then only for a day or so before the sun comes out and turns the stuff into slush and then ice and then it vanishes. I grew up where my only experience with a snowball was being hit in the head with something that was more akin to ice cubes than snow. In fact, it was amazing to me after I arrived in the Great White North this year to discover that even after several days of being on the ground, snow could actually still be fluffy, or powdery or snowy

Perhaps that’s why so many of my contemporaries in Mississippi genuinely do not understand skiing. I’ve slid down a hill or two in my time and frankly after the initial snowfall, the snow becomes something more like gravelly rather than snowy. Perhaps it was because there was only about an inch on the ground, but it was not a very comfortable experience and I spent about as much time trying to dry out my butt as I did sliding down the hill.

Several years ago, I was sent to Boston on a business trip where I stayed at the home of the person I was there to assist. He had a small pond in the back yard and though I was frightened, I allowed myself to be enticed into walking across the iced-over pond. Those who know me will probably understand why a corpulent fellow as myself would have some reservations about walking on the top of a frozen pond, especially if they are from Mississippi where the ice on small ponds never gets more than an inch or so thick if that. But wanting to experience everything in life, I took the chance and I have a photo of the event to prove it. However, if you look closely at my eyes in the photo, you will see the bravado of my posture does not belie the fear clearly etched on my face.

A few years later, I came to Upstate New York to deliver my wife for Christmas as the contract I was required to sign with her parents before they would bless the marriage stipulates, and once we were here it snowed about four inches. In a weak moment, I was intrigued enough by the Cub Cadet snowblower attachment that I volunteered to clear the driveway. After about 2 hours running the machine up and down the driveway, I had accomplished three things: 1) The driveway had somewhat less snow on it than it had when I started. 2) I miscalculated and blew the top of my mother-in-law’s mailbox off when I made the turn at the bottom of the driveway and 3) My pants legs were frozen solid in a hard, cold tube around my legs from the knees down. I couldn’t feel anything in my toes for several hours after that.

Needless to say, I have not volunteered for any more outdoor projects at my in-laws before a complete and thorough explanation and about an hour’s research on the internet. When it is cold outside and all I see is white, I’m content to stay indoors and try to figure out the channel listing on their cable service, which by the way is progressing nicely since I have explored at least 10 of the more than 60 channels they have here. I figure a few more years at the pace I’m going and they’ll have added 60 more channels that need exploring. I just might be able to milk this project for a while yet.

Anyway, yesterday it was a veritable heat wave around here when the temperature got over 22 degrees. Fahrenheit. As the Yankees around here like to say, “It’s not so bad as long as the wind’s not blowing!” Unfortunately, the wind is ALWAYS blowing so that argument doesn’t hold a lot of water with me.

Last year, when Pam and I were forced because of the weather to spend an unscheduled night in a hotel in Frackville, PA., we arose in the morning to a heart-stopping 21 degrees BELOW zero. Pam lost one of her mittens and almost got frostbite loading the luggage in the truck.

Now before you start jumping to conclusions and assume that I sent her out to load the truck while I stayed in the warm hotel, you should know that I was recovering from a two-day bout of food poisoning and before we spent the night in the hotel, we spent a couple of hours in a ditch waiting for a tow-truck to pull us out. Pam was awesome and without her assistance I would still be in Frackville which would answer the question I have asked everyone for the past year: “Why would any rational, sane person chose to live in a place where the temperature drops to 21 below?”

The fact of the matter is that all of the people in Frackville, PA probably were just like me at one time. They were passing through this inhospitable place with a bad case of food poisoning and had to spend the night. But unlike me, they didn’t have a Pam to get them loaded up in the morning and drive them as far away from that place as possible. No, they were stuck there and eventually it became easier to stay than to go. (My apologies to the fine people of Frackville, PA. This is a humorous piece and I’m sorry that you had to be the butt of my jokes. Unfortunately, it has to be someone and it might as well be someone who stays in place with seasons that include the words 21 BELOW!)

The upshot of this rant is that it is cold up here. My whole body is cold. It is cold inside and it is colder outside. The good news is that it is a dry cold and it isn’t too bad unless the wind blows.

PS: Any rumors that you may have heard that I’ve have decided to move to New York have been greatly exaggerated and my attorney says that if we can figure out who started that rumor we will have a pretty good slander case to prosecute.

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