Posted by: Jim E | January 21, 2011

Snow, Toboggans, Sleds, Cold Days And Colder Nights…

I just have to comment on this before the winter and cold is gone…here in Arkansas it is about as cold as it ever gets…low 20’s at night and into the 40’s during the day…for a transplanted Minnesotan, that is not too cold…heavens, look, we have pansies growing in the courtyard…well, I don’t know how much they grow during this weather…but they are still alive…and flowering…can you believe it???…that, along with a few other plants are called winter plants…they seem to thrive here…even in the sub-freezing temperatures…I don’t really understand it…but it’s true…we drive around on the parkways and there on the end-caps of the parkway islands are many pansies and other growing plants…this last snow we had, yup, peeking out of the snow…flowering pansies…Oh, they hunker down at night but during the day, they perk up…I don’t get it…but during the summer it is too hot for them…they are replaced in late April when the heat begins…

And along with all that, when it snowed, everybody was out sliding and playing in the snow…reminded me of Minnesota in that way…of course, unlike Minnesota, the snow was gone in a few days…and most here are looking forward to spring…we have our Dark-eyed Juncos again…down from Minnesota and further north…they will be gone about the same time the pansies are gone…we also have Goldfinches at our feeders…they too leave in April…it is a bit of a topsy-turvy world for us here…

But I do remember what Minnesota is going through right now…people across the country have complained about cold…but it was almost 30 below zero this morning in the outer suburbs of Minneapolis…colder in northern Minnesota…windchills are beyond that…40 below…you can’t imagine that if you haven’t experienced it…your nose freezes shut…eyes don’t want to work…garage door openers won’t work…car won’t start…the seats in your car are so hard it is unreal…and it is extremely dangerous to be out in that weather…especially traveling…you have to be prepared…

As  a kid I remember playing outside in that kind of weather…we would take our sleds up to the golf course near our house…it was full of hills and full of kids…if it was our first time of the year we would take our sleds and run them along the side of the road on the gravel…it would take the rust off…and now with the runners shiny…we would be ready…taking a running start and belly-flopping onto our sleds, down the hill we would go…run up the hill and do it again…we would get so hot, the cold didn’t bother us…except our hands…they would get so cold, we could no longer feel them…but we wouldn’t come in…until we were done or until mom called us in…when hands begin to warm, they would sting and feel hot…then the circulation came back…it took a while but we just never saw it as possible frostbite or dangerous…just the way it was…

We would take our toboggan up to the “nursery” (it was a tree nursery)…and down the hills we would go (toboggans are one dangerous means of downhill transport…you basically can’t control it…you hope the one in the front can do something, but you know he can’t…so you hang on for dear life)…sometime we would go down what we called the “nursery hill”…it was full of trees and we would fly headlong for the bottom…and sometime we would have to bail out and our toboggan would hit a tree (don’t tell my mom, we damaged it once, I don’t think she ever knew…I say this about the woman who said she had eyes in the back of her head…she knew everything)…this is another time where, when I think about the danger, I kinda swallow hard…I would never let my kids do that…but it was a different time…Calvin and Hobbes (one of my favorite comic strips) give a good flavor of what it is like…and this graphic tells part of the “terror of the toboggan”…one of the true winter dangers in all of “kid-dom”…but I truly loved my childhood…it was full of adventure and I suppose some danger…well, I made it, that’s something…

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