Thursday, January 15, 2009

Childhood memory.

It is cold! Not just cold enough to prompt a little whining but cold enough to warrant warnings that include the terms life threatening. I am not so very fond of the cold anyway and I am in the upper Midwest . . . where it is VERY cold today. They're talking -28 tonight with a wind chill that makes that even worse. No wonder there is a little fluffed up dove sitting on the edge of the heated birdbath.

When I was a child I loved to read animal and adventure books by London and Kjelgaard. Their books took me places I loved to go and most of the settings were away from towns and into the forests. They often took place up in the north lands of Canada or in Alaska and when London talked about how bitter cold it was I was always entranced because I could not completely comprehend cold beyond southern Illinois. Cold there was not going out without a coat in January and rain usually turned to sleet or ice. We hoped that lone December snow might happen for Christmas and Easter meant we were assured of forsythia and daffodils and lace anklet stockings with lace around the top.

This morning, as I walked out to the truck, I thought about those books by London I had read as a child. I remembered how he had said that it was so cold that when the man spit that the spittle had frozen before it had hit the ground. The air could be sharp and cutting and you had to respect the cold because it would kill your fingers or toes so fast that you wouldn't even know it was happening. I remember how the writing gave me images of blue and gray shadows and of dark sleep lurking just out of peripheral vision and of hearing that was heightened because of the cold air. He wrote of a love and a fear and a respect for the environment that I have come to share.

As I sat in the truck warming up the engine I smiled to myself and remembered . . . and can't really say if it was my layered clothes or my memories that made me warm and comfortable right then. Yes it's cold, but I wouldn't like living down south nearly so much as I do up here.

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