Friday, December 23, 2016

Brrrr to me is not Grrrreat!




When I came into existence we lived in what is now frigid Michigan and the nearest hospital was in northern Ohio, so the city of Toledo got to witness my entrance. It was the beginning of summer and sunny and to this day, that is how I prefer my weather.

In the past we have enjoyed two months of near-perfect weather; October and April. Our usual rain or high humidly has been negated by dry air from the north and facilitates outdoor activity unmatched the rest of the year. This year it didn’t play out like that and last year wasn’t much of a match either. This brings us around to the recent 38ish cool front and my intolerance for cold temperatures.

I have been cold a good number of times in my life and quite frankly, experienced life threatening plunges in my body temperature. Sounds melodramatic doesn’t it, but I’m not exaggerating. To those of us who have never experienced the inability to maintain our 98.6 degree body temperature, it is extremely painful and even worse when you try to warm back up. You will literally cry from the pain. This condition becomes life-threatening when your inner body goes below 95 degrees. On the other end of the scale, being hot is simply uncomfortable and like you, I have experienced my fair share of that.

My three brothers and I ice skated with our backs to the wind up the Little Raisin river in the early 60’s until we were miles from home. We skated so far that we ran out of river and when we tried to turn back, the wind was too fierce. We were frozen and disoriented and crying. We finally abandoned the sliver of iced-over river and got up on the farm road where a passing motorist loaded the four of us and drove for about 30 minutes to get us home.

My mom, having no idea where we got off too, was too relieved to be angry, but wisely ran a tub of tepid water and began the process of thawing us out. Now before you judge her, understand that back in those days, farm kids played outdoors all day unsupervised and only came home to eat. The water felt scalding hot and we suffered through the process of getting our body temperatures back to normal.

Roll forward a few years and this was repeated when we lived in Morgan, Utah and the temp dropped below zero while we went off owl hunting with a neighbor boy. I vividly remember screaming in pain and crying as I thawed out. I also remember how angry my mom was at that neighbor boy. Another thing to note is that any kid growing up in snow country can tell their own horror stories about being cold.

Moving back to Ohio, the 4 of us skated far out on the frozen Ottawa River and once again the wind blew us so far away that my third brother just gave up and lay down on the ice to die. Again this sounds melodramatic, but I assure you under those conditions of hypothermia, you do not think straight. My other brothers and I struggled with him to get to shore and then walked in our skates the 5 blocks to our street with our skates on.  We were too cold to change into our shoes and the painful warming up process was repeated.

While serving in the US Air Force in Great Falls, Montana I was subjected to 5 twelve-hour nights of shoveling snow around the missile silos under the night sky, only to repeat it one day after returning. Understand that there are no trees to stop the constant wind on the Great Plains. We were under blizzard conditions and the fear of a sudden thaw meant water could drain down around the hundreds of Intercontinental Missiles and possibly flood them.  The decision was made to load up airmen and give them snow shovels and remove the snow that had drifted around the giant cement pads that covered each and every missile silo. Each pad covered 1 missile and each pad was miles from the next.

Now I had seen the map on the commanding General’s office wall and there were about 1500 Minuteman missiles under his command and by golly, I think we got every one of them. Initially we flew out in the middle of the night in helicopters and were dropped off on the Great Plains and it was so cold, we all thought we would die before morning. We would dig one out and low and behold, a stake bed deuce and a half truck would roll up and load us like cattle to drive to another silo. We were shoulder to shoulder in the back of that freezing open air truck bed only to dismount and dig out another.

My geocaching/kayaking friends make fun of me when I don’t want to go out on the water if the temp drops below 70 degrees, but I simply do not like being cold.  I have been elk hunting and fallen asleep in my mummy bag, only to awaken and the entire sleeping bag would be under an inch of snow. The goose down inside the bag kept me fairly warm, but that is one sight I don’t care to see again.

The word is that this Christmas, our temperature will be around 70 degrees and most likely sunny and I couldn’t be happier.  I think it was right after Christmas in 1976 that 2 of my 3 brothers and I worked a shutdown in Pasadena and it was 14 degrees. I would have burned a Yule log for warmth if I could have. Merry Christmas my friends, remember the reason for the season, and stay toasty and comfy.
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6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mimsy: You boys are so blessed To still be alive & kicking. The things in all our lives that have brought us so close to extreme harm is shocking. I have always said " We are favoured of God." I really believe it.
Every one have a wonderful Christmas. Nice write up son.

Anonymous said...

BAM: That brings back a few memories.

Anonymous said...

Melvin Roark: I agree and enjoyed reading your article about being cold, and had to thaw out afterwards, I shouldn't have been in such deep thought about the cold.... and agree with you about temps below 70, definitely change my plans if it's 60 or below. However on the other end of the comfort zone, I don't think 95 degree temps in the summer are bad as I don't even sweat at that temp. I think someone was looking out for me years ago when I was in the Army as I was stationed in the warmer climate of Vietnam versus some of my fellow soldiers going to the frigid duty in Germany or Alaska.

Anonymous said...

Larry Houston: There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear!
In this part of Texas, at least, you can put on more clothes and stay comfortable outdoors in just about any temperature winter will throw at us. Come summertime, though, you can only take off so much. I've never experience hypothermia, but have been over-heated several times and it is just as life-threatening. I'll take January over July anytime!

Anonymous said...

I hate the cold also.
Never been as cold as you, it hurts to think about.

Say warm. Fred

Anonymous said...

It has been in the 80s down here in Florida the past 2 or 3 weeks. Anybody want to come down and get warm? pg

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