Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Baby It's Cold Outside

Well it is certainly wintry out.  This is the first seriously cold snap we've experienced this winter. We have two foreign exchange students living with us.  Just a couple of days ago, the one asked if we were past the coldest part of the year.  I offered that we probably would see a cold spell in either January or February.  A weather prophet I am not, but I wasn't far off on that one.

On my drive to work yesterday (at least it was a local school), the traffic lights were out at the main intersection of town.  One takes one's life in one's hands trying to cross the main highway sans lights.  I chose to just turn right, go north and then turn around in a parking lot and then make a quick right hand turn at the offending intersection.  Of course life is never that simple, when I got back to the intersection, first I was facing into the bright morning sun (not a complaint, just pretty much an observation that you couldn't see). Then all the cars, huddled around the dead lights, were busy exhausting, and further choking up the visibility.  Anyway, to make a short story longer, I did make it through safely, even with a bit of fear and trepidation.
Cold weather brings up a few memories for me.


January 8th, 1969.  I was eight and we were living on the home farm.  Dad woke us up early that morning and told us we better get dressed quickly and come downstairs.  The old farmhouse was cold most mornings and especially so that morning -- the thermometer registered a healthy minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit (pre-Metric days).
Anyway, the reason for Dad's urgency was the fact that he had just lit the wood stove and we had a chimney fire roaring full bore.  We could hear the whoop, whoop, whoop (not sure how else to describe that chilling sound) of the fire swirling inside the pipes and billowing out the top of the chimney.
The quickest way to quench a chimney fire is to dump baking soda in the stove. The resulting gases tend to smother the flames.  Unfortunately, there was no baking soda in the house (there always was ever after!).  Mom and Dad sent my elder sister to the nearest neighbours to get soda.  I gather she ran the quarter mile distance, got the soda, and ran back.  She still mentions about lying down to catch her breath in the extreme frost.  The soda did the trick and smothered the fire and I know my parents cleaned the pipes that day.
I recall coming home on the bus, peering off in the distance to see if the house was still standing.  Obviously had it burned, someone would have notified the school, but my youthful imaginings feared the worst.
Another cold episode I recall (actually it was a series of episodes, every morning for a couple of years) was at the transfer point between buses on the way to school.  For some reason I was picked up close to home in a small feeder bus, driven 10 miles and unceremoniously dropped off in the next village to await the arrival of the big bus.  I'm not sure why this was not better coordinated, because there was a twenty minute wait outdoors in the bitter elements.  We huddled on the front steps of the one and only store, which basically gave us shelter from southerly winds  - ever notice, not too much cold wind blows that direction?  All the local village kids waited for the last minute to meet up with us. The few of us from the small bus, got to enjoy the full force of nature's finest for what seemed an eternity.  Of course too, those were the days when you were much too cool (cold would be more apt) to wear either a hat or mittens.

So I kind of have to laugh at the kids now.  The bus turns around in our yard.  They have to suffer the elements for 30 seconds from the front door to the bus door.  They don't know what it is like to trudge four miles, uphill, through three feet of snow every day of the year.  Well actually I guess I don't really know that one either -- that was my Dad and that's a whole 'nuther story.
And that is about all I have to say for today.
Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.

1 comment:

  1. The pipes burning and chimney fires growing up gave me my healthy paranoia about fire still to this day! There is a peculiar smell when the pipes are on fire, and I can imagine it still. Funny, I don't remember Mom or Dad every using baking soda. We hung wet towels over the pipes and poured water between the floors where the pipe went upstairs through the ceiling. Very messy, but the only way to douse the smoldering floor. Argh. How I hated that!


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