Thursday, January 13, 2011

Now and Then


Mamma-mia it's cold outside. I about froze my little patootie off just walking the two blocks from my house to
SpudCreek. The temperature is in the single digits right now, which wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't blowing a fairly stiff Easterly breeze. The radio said it was supposed to blow sixty in Juneau tonight with a wind chill of minus forty-five. I know I'm living in Alaska, but it's really hard to stay warm with those kind of temps.
I guess I shouldn't complain. It sounds like the whole lower forty-eight is being pounded by Old Man Winter this year.
I wanted to contrast the picture from the Fourth of July with the one I took today. I don't know how cold it has to get to freeze running water, but apparently it's that cold here now. I had to do the old Chinese lady shuffle to keep upright on the street today. That's when you have to slide your feet just a few inches at a time to make forward progress. If you try to walk normally you'll end up on your butt- guaranteed. The streets are solid ice in some parts, most notably right in front of my house. It almost takes an act of God to get out of my driveway. I keep expecting someone to come sliding by on a pair of ice skates.
For some reason ice-skating isn't too much of a pastime here. When I was growing up back in Marion I attempted to ice skate a couple times. I don't know why. McKinley Lake was the closest place to go, and that was like two miles away. My mom didn't know how to drive and my dad was always working, so I would have to walk there if I wanted to skate. Usually by the time I got there I was already cold. Sticking my already chilled feet into a pair of frozen skates made almost no sense at all, but everyone else was doing it so I did too. (After I had done something stupid and been caught, my folks used to ask me - "If everyone else was jumping off a bridge would you do it too?" Of course I'd say no, but now that I think about, maybe I would have.) Then having to take my gloves off to try and tie the laces was akin to torture. The laces were usually stiff as a board so it was like trying to tie a piece of cardboard. I usually didn't have enough feeling in my fingers to tie the bow, so I would end up with a knot. After about five minutes of falling down and cracking my head on the ice I would decide I'd had enough. Because I had knots in the laces I couldn't untie the skates, so I put on some rubber skate guards and walked the few blocks to Meister's Drug Store in my ice skates. How I kept from breaking an ankle is anyone's guess. Eventually I'd warm up enought to untie the skates, put on my boots,and walk my frozen carcass back home. I'm not sure what my mindset was, but for some reason I tried ice skating several times over a period of a few years when I was young. It just looked like so much fun when other people did it. I believe it was Einstein who said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Hmmm... I'll have to give that some thought.

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