As I was thinking of how cold it has been this winter, how cold it could be this winter and was reading about how cold it IS (this winter) in places more blessed than we are with cold, I started remembering some of the cold times I have lived in and survived.
I lived in Bemidji, MN, when I was in second grade. I knew it was cold but never knew HOW cold – we never really discussed temperatures between we children back then. I lived about half a mile from the bus stop and walked there nearly every day – I might have gotten a ride from my dad but I don’t remember it. I walked on the county road to the highway were the bus picked me up and walked past snow fences holding the snow off the road. I was bundled up; I don’t remember being miserably cold but it must have been pretty nasty. That part of Minnesota has pretty cold temperatures when the winter hits.
After Bemidji, I lived in milder climates (Japan and Oklahoma) until we moved to McClusky, ND for a year. My mother’s family lived (and still lives) there so we moved there while my dad was stationed in Greenland for a year. I got my first pair of ice skates and learned to skate on my knees (big reason for knee problems now). I also had to learn how to walk on ice (and learned that on my knees, too). We walked to school every day and I don’t remember getting a ride to school then, either. I do remember being cold. I was given a nice warm scarf that winter that I still have - it’s still nice and warm - and used it every day. School was about a mile from our house, I’m guessing, so it was a cold walk every day.
One strong memory is of being in church on cold days - we wore snow boots to church, then took them off and wore dress shoes in church. The boots were stored in the unheated entryway of the church for that hour, so the boots were cold when we put them on. I wore nylons (a grown-up ninth grader) so the boots were extra cold - like putting your bare feet on ice cubes. Of course we carried our shoes in cute little shoe bags (mine was brown and black) while wearing the snow boots. Auntie Pete lived about half a block from church and we normally went there for Sunday dinners. It was a cold hop and a skip from the church to her house where I would jump out of the cold boots and stand on the warm register to warm my feet up (wonder if that’s why I constantly have cold feet now?).
Another cold memory was a moving day in Rapid City, SD. Norm and I were moving from an apartment to a rented house early in our married life. We chose a January day to move and it was in the minus twenty range. The friend who came to help us had trouble starting his pickup because of the cold. Everyone had trouble starting cars in that weather!
I’ve been through snowy winters, cold winters, mild winters, “brown” (no snow in the north) winters but the coldest I’ve experienced, I believe, was one Christmas while living at Murphy’s Landing. My folks came from South Dakota for Christmas and we spent Christmas Eve at Joy’s. When we lived up there in the Cities, we were about thirty minutes, give or take, from Joy’s. It was shorter, time-wise, if Ken knew I was making home-made pizza ... he could make in half the time, then!
However, this Christmas was bitterly cold. Fortunately there was no wind! As we left Joy’s at midnight, Norm and Dad were in the front, brave souls that they were, with only the bundled up clothes they were wearing but Mom and I were cuddled in the back with blankets (notice the plural) around us. Norm had warmed up the car for quite a while before we went out. As we drove past a bank, the temperature there said minus thirty! MINUS!!! And the cold air was so frosty and crisp and foggy that the lights of the car only went a little ways away and bounced back on us. Plus the highway lights had huge halos around them. It was beautiful despite the cold.
Oh, and did you know ... no matter how warm the heater is in your car, you need to put extra clothing or blankets on the door side of you because the cold will come in and freeze your shoulder and leg that is closest to the door.
Fortunately I have not experienced anything colder since that Christmas. It lives in my memory. And fortunately I have not driven (or ridden) in cold even close to that since. As we have retired, we have the luxury of saying “We won’t come” when the weather is bad.
Today it is overcast, nearing the low twenties and there are small snowflakes slowly drifting down. It is a beautiful day, giving me hope that Spring might indeed come. You have a beautiful day!