December 21, 2011

Papa, It's Cold Outside

The telephone call went something like this:

Papa: Is it very cold, yet?

Alex: Really cold.

Papa: Do you like the cold?

Alex: No!

Papa: I knew you were the smart one.

My warm-weather-dwelling-can't-stand-being-cold Papa is still amazed his daughter (That's me!), son-in-law, and grandchildren have chosen such a cold place to to live. "You really like it, huh?" he asks, puzzled.

Perhaps I should clarify something for my Papa. It's not the cold that keeps us here. None of us like being cold. We do not like cold fingers and toes... and arms... and legs... and faces... We do not enjoy scraping ice off frozen windshields or driving on icy roads. We aren't happy about the need to pull on snow boots and several layers of clothing just to retrieve mail from the mailbox out front. It's not the cold we love, rather we love this place in spite of it.

When I was growing up winter meant fog so thick at times you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. Now it means bright white that shimmers and shines as though someone has sprinkled sparkly glitter over the whole outdoors. Oooo! And icicles. It's just so pretty! Especially when viewed from the window - while wrapped in a blanket, sipping hot tea, and yelling for someone to please turn the heater up.

Because of snow, the kids cannot ride their bikes, but sledding wears them out faster anyway. In fact, after a good while of sledding I call them in, give them cups of hot chocolate, and watch them pass out on the floor. Makes me happy.

We may still have snow on the ground here while my mother begins planting flowers there, but we are busy with other outdoor activities. We can sit in a little shack on upturned buckets, drinking coffee from a thermos, and stare at a hole in the ice for hours on end. Locals call it ice fishing. But since fishing implies actually catching something, I prefer to call it ice watching.

And then, there are bragging rights. I haven't lost them. I used to speak of summers where temperatures soared well over one hundred for weeks on end. I can now brag of enduring winter temperatures that sink so low we have to warm up to get to zero.

And the best part of living here on the frozen tundra? Seemingly, as a counterpoint to all that cold weather the people here are extra warm and friendly.

So, yes. We really do like it, Papa. Hopefully you will be able to visit us at least once during the winter. We don't have as much fog here, but we can still take you ice watching. And I promise to save you a seat by the heater.

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