Yet Another “It’s Cold Outside” Story

On my daily visit to facebook, I’ve been seeing lots of posts about the weather. We’ve been in a cold snap now for several weeks, and you can tell folks are getting tired of it. There have been a lot of pictures of car dashboard thermometers showing below zero readings, for example, with some text that says, “Brrr!” Comments below the posts usually contain one or more from someone in warmer climes suggesting their superiority for their geographical choices. They start getting a little “samey” after a while, and I swore I’d not add to this literary glut.

That said, I’d just like to suggest that it is really cold outside. Alice and I went for a very nice snowshoe trek at our neighbor’s place yesterday, and had a great time. The weather had turned, and it was in the teens above zero with little wind and slight overcast. Folks were actually peeling off their heavy parkas once they got going along the trail. However, last night and today we were right back to below zero with some strong winds.

Franco and I did our usual after-supper walk this evening, and the first thing I noticed was the squeak my boots made on the road. The sound the snow makes when it is really cold outside is unmistakable. Then I got to wondering what I would do if I got stuck out there without a warm place to retreat to. This kind of cold is no joke. Skin exposed to this weather would start to freeze in a short time.

If I had the gear to build a fire, that would be a priority. As the character in Jack London’s short story, To Build a Fire learned the hard way, don’t build your fire under a spruce tree loaded with snow, because when the tree sheds its load of snow, a cheerful life-saving fire can go out completely. Once I was satisfied the fire was self sufficient for a while, I’d hunt up some small balsam fir trees, and begin tearing off branches. This tree gives up its branches easily if you know the trick to snapping them off. I would make as big a pile of these branches as I could. I’d then kick the snow away from an area near the branch pile, and layer these branches into the hole, making sure that the pile is longer than I am tall. I’d want about 4′ thick of these branches.

I’d then pile a lot of snow on top of the branch pile, and then shinny inside the middle, where I’d wait out the night, hopefully avoiding freezing.

Also during this walk, I thought about how smart Franco is. Now I don’t know if this is just coincidence, or if this dog does this on purpose, but it happens often enough that I think he is playing a trick on me. When we go for our walks, I’m frequently thinking about things, and enter my own world. I’ll often wake up, look in front of me and not see him. I’ll turn around, and also see no trace of Franco behind me. Fearing that he’d run off, I’ll call him, turn around, and see him 5′ in front me me looking at me with a puzzled, yet patient expression.

What he seems to be an expert at is watching me as he walks just behind me on my right side. When he sees me start to turn (I always turn to the left) he speeds up and positions himself in front of me, stops, and waits for the fun to start as I call for him. I can just imagine him sniggering under his breath and making a mental tick mark for yet another “I got you.” His technique seems to work best in the dark and cold, because with my hat on I don’t hear him walking around me as well as I can in the summertime.

2 Responses to “Yet Another “It’s Cold Outside” Story”

  1. Ryan says:

    Mel always caries multiple methods for creating fire with her in the field. She had to use it recently when the tracked four-wheeler broke down (again.)

  2. Mel says:

    I have yet to break out my box of matches. The magnesium with steel striker + dryer lint/birch bark is my favorite. I’ve practiced fire building in snow, rain, wind – so far I’ve had good luck, and when I *need* a fire, I can get one going quick.

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