I know that the cold weather and bone chilling wind have a lot of folks hunkered down in their easy chairs and rightfully so. As an outdoors enthusiast and a youth hockey coach my easy chair nights don’t come as often as I’d sometimes like. On the other hand I find that coaching and staying active usually makes me feel that I am actually younger than my years. There was a posting on Facebook that kind of sums it up; it said “inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the H#@* happened.”
In a way I don’t mind the cold because you don’t have to shovel it but cold combined with snow and wind are a whole different story. The other morning as I was shoveling the driveway with a bone chilling wind attacking my body I realized that my chopper mittens were not doing the job and my fingers began to get that old feeling I’d get as a kid when I had overstayed my visit while playing in the outdoors. My fingers began to tingle and hurt which means that when I get inside to warm up things would only get worse.
As a kid I had chopper mittens with wool liners to keep my hands from freezing. Back then wool was our “good old days” version of Thinsulate. We also wore wool stocking caps, scarves, mittens, shirts, union suits, etc. you get the idea. Those days are long gone only to be replaced by the days of Thinsulate and Gortex where everything is lighter, warmer and drier.
Getting back to the winter thing; when the temperatures get as cold as they have been lately even the snow makes noise when you walk on it. When walking on snow in sub-zero temps it seems to crackle, squeak and moan whenever you take a step. Yes this does bring back that memory of winters past when I’d be bundled up in all that wool with a scarf draped across my face to keep from breathing in the cold air while I was playing outdoors in the frigid cold. Breathing through that scarf was not without its own set of issues because your warm moist breath would eventually cause the scarf to ice up.
Back then there wasn’t much that could keep us kids from being outside, let’s face it; the alternative was staying inside and listening to the radio, re-reading old comic books and playing with the same toys you had played with a thousand times. I can still remember how excited I was on the day that my Dad bought our 19-inch Zenith TV. We were probably the last ones in the neighborhood to have a TV and we were the ones that could least afford it but Dad decided to throw caution to the wind and buy it. I believe the place he purchased it was called Gordon Electric at the time and he could afford it because they let him make payments. Those were the days before credit cards and credit checks; it was a time when store owners trusted a man’s word which was as good as his signature.
Yes that TV was the start of an era for me, not because it made me give up the outdoors but because when I was not playing outdoors I could watch old movies, the Little Rascals, Laurel and Hardy and so many good shows of that time. Old cowboy movies were probably my favorite along with Sgt. Preston of the Yukon. Before we had TV I would hurry home from school and run next door to my Aunt Ruby’s to watch Johnny Weissmuller as Jungle Jim wrestling alligators and saving folks from man-eating lions. TV reception in those days wasn’t exactly great and I can still see my Dad adjusting the picture by moving the ball of ‘tin foil” that we had wrapped around the antenna wire. We usually got three channels and on a good day, which was Saturday in my world, I might be able to bring in WCCO so I could watch Axle and his dog, Roundhouse Rodney or Soupy Sales.
TV was only a pacifier to get me through until us neighborhood kids got together to do what we loved best and that was play outdoors and explore the vast wilderness of the slough. Winter was our favorite time because we could trek through the snow on top of the ice and spend countless hours exploring and playing without getting too wet. Wet would happen if you spent too much time rolling around in the snow or if you stepped next to the slough grass and your foot went through the hollow ice. Wool socks and long Johns were no help when you had an overshoe full of water and were a long ways from home. This happening would always mean the end of a fun day for the unlucky explorer that filled his boot with slough water. Believe me, it was a long walk back home when you have a cold, wet foot and the temperatures are well below freezing. In case you haven’t figured it out, I had that happen to me on more than one occasion but I still kept coming back for more.
Until next time, stay warm and remember that it’s always time well spent when you spend it in cur great Minnesota outdoors.
Please keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers during the upcoming year. They are the reason that we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we enjoy today.