Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Frozen Snot

Yep, you read the title right! The weather is so cold here that it reminds me of my childhood in Minnesota and when we lived in North Dakota. In the winters it gets so cold the snot freezes in your nose. The little kids would stick out their tongue and catch the snot as it ran out of their noses. The cold makes your eyes water, then freezes on your cheeks. 

I remember walking to school when I was in high school. It wasn't very far, only about three miles or so. But on those 30 degree below zero mornings it was cold. I would arrive at school with frost on my eyebrows, and on my quilted jacket (that's what we wore back then). The only way I survived was to keep moving. I balled my fist up in the palms of my gloves to keep my fingers from freezing. If I carried books my fingers did freeze. When I got to school and thawed out my fingers they hurt so bad. Today I have very little feeling in my fingertips. 

I would go ice skating in the evenings when it was well below zero. The ice was so brittle it would pop as I glided over it. The blades would hardly cut into the ice. Thank God we had a warming house. It was a small building with benches and a kerosine stove in the middle. It was a place to commiserate. 

I remember deer hunting with my dad in late November. We would drive to northern Minnesota, up around Black Duck. We'd pitch a tent (too poor for a hotel). We'd keep a kerosine heater going all night. We did sleep. Then the next morning we'd find the coldest place in the woods to stand. It was cold (minus 20) and quiet. It was so quiet that when a twig snapped it almost sounded like a gun reporting. And still, the deer were so quiet they could walk around you without you hearing them.

One morning I almost froze to death. I stood in the cold woods until my toes and fingers hurt so bad I could no longer stand it. I decided to walk out to the car, which was quite a ways away. Walking didn't warm me. When I got to the car my fingers were so frozen I kept dropping the key in the snow. Finally, I got the key between my two thumbs and barely had enough strength to turn the lock. Once I got in the car I had great difficulty maneuvering the key to start the car. When the heat finally started, my hands and feet hurt so bad while thawing. It took over an hour before I could use my hands.

In North Dakota, after a snow the cold winds would come and drift the snow high and hard. When we lived in Drayton, I remember a three day white out blizzard. The temperature went into the minus thirties. The wind was in the 40's, and the windchill went down to almost minus 90. School was cancelled (only because the buses wouldn't start). When the blizzard was over, I went out to shovel a 4' drift out of our driveway. The snow shovel wouldn't even make a dent in the drift, it was almost as hard a ice. I used an ice chisel on the drift, and it bent the chisel. I had to carve out cubes of hard snow and toss them aside by hand. My fingers and ears got cold.

Ever since then I have thought that a person must have some kind of mental defect to want to live there. But, of course, they have more than one season..... winter and July 17th. And on July 17th everyone gets together and swats mosquitoes. 

Well, this winter in Denver reminds me of that. It's not nearly as cold, and it doesn't last as long. But it does make me yearn for Hawaii. 

Thank God, they have Starbucks in Hawaii, too. I don't ever remember seeing one in North Dakota. But I did see a sign where they sell "expresso." Man, a Starbucks would have been good when I was sitting in that car trying to thaw out!

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