The current bone-shattering cold snap takes me back. Back to my youth when, answering the prayers of children everywhere, schools were closed and buses didn’t run. Later, even when we moved to town, I wouldn’t dream of going to school under those conditions: drifted roads, high wind chills.
I always thought it foolish to expect teachers, staff, and town kids to go to school when all told there were never more than a couple hundred kids in the combined kindergarten to grade 12 population. It was foolish in the late ?60s, it was foolish when my kids were in school, and It’s foolish in 2008. And yes, I’m aware of union realities and child-care dilemmas for parents.
I’m also reminded of our days raising cattle. There were days so brutally cold the chore tractor wouldn’t start, or if it did, it needed to idle for hours just to move. One such day the steel bale spike snapped off in the cold. I remember being ?gate girl? while Roy brought bale after bale of fresh straw bedding. I remember having my glasses freeze up as a scarf covered my lower face and a toque was pulled low over my brow. As cold and demoralized as we got, we felt for all of God’s creatures who had to survive under those conditions. Heating the cowboys’s drinking water, not skimping on their feed, and providing windbreaks was the least we could do for them.
Likewise for the birds that live in our yard. Refilling the feeders with black sunflower seeds and suet ensures that those tiny bodies get the energy they need to survive. We also look away when we see deer nibbling at the hay bales we’ve made to sell.
I’m also reminded of people in the area who’ve died from carbon monoxide poisoning because of sketchy stoves and chimneys. There are others who’ve lost fingers and toes through frostbite, and one man who lost his life through hypothermia. Cold kills, especially if You’re ill-prepared or foolhardy.
I remember the sting of extreme cold, when flesh gets so cold it seems to be burning. As a kid I recall my sister and me digging a tunnel into the bank the snowplow had made along our road. Exposed areas?noses, wrists between mittens and sleeves, cheeks?were especially vulnerable.
I’m not sure if It’s a realignment of priorities that comes with maturity or if we’re losing our edge. I find Roy and I are less willing to do stuff that isn’t smart or may even be downright dangerous. We can just hunker down at home and ride this out. It’s at times like this I really love being home-based. No need to scrape windows, buck drifts, worry about roads or if the car will start at the end of the day.
I’m amazed by the creativity and resilience of people. So whatever coping strategies you have for getting through this ordeal, be smart, be safe, be alert. Cold snaps create lasting memories, from where I sit.