1/21/2008

BRRRRRRRR - let's hear it for bears

Jim and I rode up to our PA place yesterday afternoon to check on things. It was cold, yes, but the skies were blue and the air crisp and sharp. As we moved NW from home the winds picked up. Riding so snug and warm inside the car I didn't think about what that could mean for the "outside".

At the moment my head was filled with stories, stories I am learning for a solo program February 3 - a pick of multi-cultural old folktales for grown-ups. The title of the program is Rogue Tales - stories of intrigue and deception. As I work on them I think they are more about tricksters - tricksters that are still about in the world today. And relationships. In these stories the trickster is not always the one you expect it to be. In one story its a father, in another an old, conniving crone who traps a young husband, in another a couple who set out to trick each other. By definition - a rogue is a trickster.

Jim and I talked about the program. He has not heard the stories yet but relationships and sometimes tricksters are his business so he asks good questions. Questions that help me clarify the story.

So you see how it was that we reached the house and were startled when the wind nearly yanked the door off the car when we opened it and it was more bitterly cold than we had expected. When Jim opened the kitchen door I rushed in to get out of the cold - and found myself stepping into a freezer locker. Brrrrrrr. Much colder inside. We raced from room to room - turning on floor heaters. I heated water from the Polar Water bottle for hot chocolate - just to feel the hot cup in my stiffening fingers. Jim asured me, "it won't take long to warm up."

It was bitter cold inside the house. Houses are supposed to be warm. Its a shock when they aren't.

Cook, I thought. Make lunch. OK. I stepped to the sink to wash the lettuce and when I turned on the faucet - nothing happened. The pipes were frozen. Not surprising really - the house sits on an unprotected rise and the kitchen wall faces a field. Winds buffet this wall. In this case - freezing the kitchen sink water pipes.

All the other inside pipes were flowing. Taps open. Toilets flushing.

We had come to check on things, right?

Despite many warming cups of tea and hot chocolate by five o'clock I was ready to go home! It was still cold in the house. I hunkered down in our back bedroom where it was a little warmer than the other parts of the house. But that's not saying much. We packed up. Then checked the kitchen sink. The pipes were still frozen. I was ready to abandon ship regardless but a casual call home to our daughter, another owner, reminded us what a disaster we would face if it burst. Her warning and Jim's good sense prevailed. We stayed.

Quickly Jim had a roaring fire going in the living room wood stove. All the heaters were running. I hibernated in the bedroom - now having added several more layers of clothing. Then I remembered the electric blanket on our bed. It did not take 20 minutes for it to heat up and for me to snuggle in. Remember what General Electric used to say, "Live better electrically."

I know. I know. Whining. What a wimp! But you have to understand - I am southern born, used to warmer climes, my blood is thin and I am shiver at the cold in a summer breeze.

As the winds whipped against the kitchen wall I thought of "Little House on the Prairie" where they had no choice but to stay put in hard times. My admiration for pioneer women soars. What a debt we owe them.

And a personal thank you to Thomas Alva Edison. Isn't he the one who harnassed electricity?

This morning I woke up warm as toast under a mound of blankets. As I savored the warmth of the electric blanket a few more minutes, I thought of the story I told last week at the ANS pre-school. "Why the Bear Sleeps All Winter" and I felt a new kinship with bears. Smart, aren't they?

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