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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: February 14, 2018

I Passed The Blood Test

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,



**********

Last week my husband and I made a driving trip with a 26 foot rental truck and our own pickup, packed full of our "stuff," up to Wisconsin for storage in our barn. Now, early February probably is an odd time for such a task but some things going on in our personal lives dictate that we do as much as we can now, well before our June final move back to Wisconsin. So after giving the national weather one more check, we set out on the 1740 mile round trip, intending to complete it in five days.

Now, the forecast did not predict "show-stopping" or dangerous weather of ice or heavy snow, but it was bitterly cold. The prediction for the day we'd be unloading in our barn was for well-below zero temperatures with a high of four degrees " without wind chill. And there was plenty of wind available from the north.

In preparation for this foray, I ordered myself a new set of insulated coveralls, and dug out my 18 year old Wisconsin insulated boots. Both were chosen strictly for warmth; not style. I honestly was wondering if I would be able to tolerate the extreme cold. Maybe my blood has gotten "too thin," living so far south.

Once properly dressed and working hard unloading the big truck, I was plenty warm. We had some winter-hardened family members to help and two young members of the extended family rode sleds down the dirt piles outside while we worked. They were having a good time, and never complained about the cold. We ran some errands related to our move, visited relatives, and went out for a burger at the local establishment. The cold didn't factor into our plans at all, just like "the good old days" when we lived in Marinette. My only concession to the cold was foregoing my normal twice a day outdoor walks, but since the dogs weren't with us, I had an excuse to bail out on that part of my routine.

I had forgotten how good it feels to go in and take off your outdoor gear after some exertion outside on a freezing day. You feel invigorated and relaxed, both at the same time, as you sit down in the warm house. A cup of tea tastes amazing, and you are surprised when you touch your face and realize how chilled your exposed skin really is.

I have had the same conversation at least 100 times since we started telling people in Oklahoma we were moving north. Question 1: Why are you moving up there? Response: Family and friends; or "there's no place like home." Question 2, inevitably: How are you going to stand the cold weather? Response: "You get used to it." (Sometimes, I add "But it's a dry cold," playing off the commentary in Oklahoma about the 100 degree days being "a dry heat." Ha! When it's a 100 degrees I am miserable " doesn't matter much if it's dry or humid.

The doubt about my blood being too thin is now gone and I remember my father's mantra about preferring cold weather to hot: "You can always put on more clothes, but you can't always take off more clothes." So true, for the sake of decency.

On our way back home, we were passing through wind-swept Illinois. The temperature outside was less than 10 degrees, and the wind chill was probably close to, or below, zero. In a big field of cornfield stubble, my husband pointed out a small figure " a bundled up person, riding a shaggy horse, picking their way into the headwinds across the field. No warm barn or house in sight " this was a long ride the pair were on. Now, there is a truly tough equestrian. I've heard people complain for years about it being too cold to ride in Oklahoma in winter " in fact, our pet sitter was horrified that it got down to 22 one morning while we were up north. Members of the horse community here would be astonished if they had seen the horse and rider we saw! And it was interesting to think that 100 years ago, this would have been the transportation available to rural Wisconsinites at a distance from a train station. If you needed to go to "town," church or nearly anywhere else, you saddled or harnessed a horse if it was too far to walk, regardless if it was June or January.

As usual when we are in Wisconsin, we loaded up on good cheese and some of our favorite "only in Wisconsin" beer. I was also gifted a huge rutabaga, something I love that is impossible to find in Oklahoma. Since it was well below zero again when we stopped for the night near St. Louis enroute home, all of these things had to come into the hotel to avoid freezing overnight. As my husband pushed a luggage cart loaded with these goodies through the lobby, the hotel receptionist quipped: "You must be from Wisconsin." Yes, indeed, I am from Wisconsin and in four more months, I'll be a resident again, confident and ready to face my first Wisconsin winter in 18 years.

I got a lot of feedback, some of it very entertaining, on the column that featured handkerchiefs. Most responders shared my distaste for handkerchiefs but at least two people who gave me feedback still use them. They make some good points about being kinder to our environment and reducing our resource demands. The funny responses were from numerous people who remembered grandmothers or mothers "stashing" their hankies in various places " several mentioned tucking them under wristwatch bands. But the responses that got my attention were ladies who discreetly tucked hankies into their brassieres. I found that totally astonishing but when I expressed surprise I got some stories about ladies hauling out parking passes, cell phones and money from their undergarments, and then handing those things directly to others. I never fail to learn something from reader comments!

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: Janiethibmartin@gmail.com.


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