Friday, January 12, 2007

One Damn Cold Winter

Let me tell you about BC.I remember back in ’95. That’d be 1995 for you older folk who might be under the impression that I’m speaking about a time long before yours. (You read this with an old timer’s drawl like I’m some old fart who only has a few lucid moments and those only now and again). Anyway, it was October. The fall was rainy and that prevented me from getting my wood in. I had an old 4X4 Ford Ranger, 1987, but the tires were getting bald and it was easier to get around when the mud wasn’t as slick as a freshly dropped ice cream sandwich. (Don’t ask why I didn’t get my wood in during the summer. I have no excuse for that, other than the fact that I was an idiot.) So the wood wasn’t in and I didn’t get it in.The months passed and the snow continued to fall. Winter piled up outside and what there was of a woodpile steadily diminished. No worries though, Christmas was coming.When I was a kid, my mom would sometimes ask me, “what are ya doing... waiting for Christmas?” That was when we were kids and though I’ve always been a procrastinator, up until then the answer had always been no. This year, however, I was most certainly waiting for Christmas.Lest you have forgotten, I will remind you that I am a teacher. We are a fortunate lot and so I bided my time and stretched the wood as far as it would go, waiting for Christmas.Christmas came that year and it was ushered in with the coldest temperatures that I can remember (-45C). For those of you more familiar to Fahrenheit, that would be -50F. Let me tell you that it was crazy cold. I wore long johns, jeans, my snow pants, a pair of coveralls and a winter jacket after that, one over the other and still I could feel the cold all the way though. Let me say that I did as little as I could outdoors. But chores still had to be done.The Christmas holidays trickled by. The truck (which was a diesel) sat frozen in the driveway. It had more sense than I did. I waited for as long as I could.On January 1st, with only a few days from having to return to the classroom, I could wait no longer. There was no wood left in the shed and the whether had still not let up. Thankfully it had warmed to a balmy -35C and I set about coaxing the truck out of its hibernation. It was none too pleased and the most I could get out of it was a slow idle. The situation was dire, and so dressed in my getup and piled into the driver’s seat with the seat back as far as it would go. In this way I was able to get my legs, with all of the extra padding, under the steering wheel. And off I went.The truck never did get over an idle and that was just as well. I’d been in a vehicle once when the cold wind reduced the engine temperature so much that the car wouldn’t run at all. The solution was to drive in low gear with high rpms. That wasn’t a problem today. I could develop neither speed nor rpms. Thankfully the truck puttered along.In the early afternoon I reached my destination and left the truck running while I sawed up enough wood to fill it high above the racks. It gets dark at 3:00 in the afternoon and so I puttered home in the pitch black night with the temperature steadily dropping.My parents met me in town, worried sick that I was stranded out on some logging road, but other than that, the whole adventure was uneventful.I know you were hoping there’d be some sort of climax, and there was. I got home and filled up our wood stove, opened the damper right up and celebrated by heating the house as hot as that fire would make it – chimney fire be d**mned. The house didn’t burn down and I didn’t run out of wood again until spring.The Truth.

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