Column: Hibernation has to be a better alternative to the winter months

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 13, 2005

One hates to admit that the bears, ‘coons, skunks, and even the brighter snakes have better sense about winter weather than we do.

If we can put a man on the moon, certainly we can devise a system whereby we can hibernate from November to April. Might even end wars. Who in his right mind would rather run around shooting people and being shot rather than have a good winter’s sleep?

One of the first friends I made when I entered the university was a young woman from West Virginia. She asked me if I liked Minnesota. When I told her I liked everything about the state except the climate, she gazed at me piteously and inquired, &uot;What else is there?&uot;

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On my 12th birthday just before Christmas, I received a five-year diary. It was blue with a little key and a drawing for every month.

The one for January showed an old-fashioned, but beautiful young lady with long curls. She was sitting in a chintz covered chair doing needlepoint. On the other side of the picture was a tall thin young lady coming down a slope on skis.

The verse below the picture read, &uot;The winter winds were far too cold for dear old-fashioned Mary, but gleefully I face the cold of any January.&uot;

In a pig’s eye!

I didn’t like the cold then any better than I do now and I don’t like it at all. Somehow, I never felt the cold when I was out on the bobsled with my friends. I walked almost a mile to school, though, once I finished elementary school, I didn’t enjoy it at all.

Even before I walked all that way, I didn’t enjoy walking to school and we lived just across the street from my school. There was some kind of a dumb rule that I couldn’t go in the front door of the school so I had to go around into the back door.

I didn’t like to walk on the sidewalk because of the ice. I was afraid I’d fall down. Moreover, I was always a bit of a late starter, one more page to read in one more book. Then I’d cut through the schoolyard.

I wore a bright red coat. So on the day the snow was taller than I was, my mother looked out to see me up to my neck in a snow drift waving my arms and shouting at the top of my voice, &uot;Help! Help! Help!&uot;

She was not pleased. As she said later, she could dimly hear me and she thought I was screaming &uot;Hell! Hell! Hell!&uot;

It was not something she thought I should be yelling no matter what kind of a bind I was in. She grabbed her coat and pushed out to rescue me.

Fortunately, one of the eighth-grade girls had caught sight of me and raced over to pry me out of the drift. It was before we had electric bells so the kindly janitor kept ringing his hand-held bell until I got inside and couldn’t be counted tardy.

I suppose this gave the story a happy ending, but the teacher lectured me on starting a bit earlier to school. My schoolmates were annoyed with me for risking the loss of our tardy holiday.

Besides, it wasn’t altogether easy to convince my mother that I’d been merely shouting for help rather than bringing scandal to the family by my profanity. As I say, there’s very little glee in facing the cold of any January as far as I’m concerned.

I’m already counting the days to spring. As for the diary, even if I kept trying to keep one, I lacked the skill for being a good diarist. I’d write things like, &uot;Today I got up and went to school.

After school I went to have my music lesson. Mrs. Standford says that my mother was such an

accomplished pianist and my father had such a good ear for music she couldn’t understand where I was coming from.

&uot;She gave me a gold star, though. She’s afraid that Lil (her housekeeper) will quit if I cry because I didn’t get a gold star. No one in town can make a burnt sugar cake like Lil does. They needn’t think there’s any danger of my crying about the star, though. It never was the star. I just don’t like being yelled at.

&uot;Anyway I don’t want to grow up and teach piano. I want to go to New York City and be a private detective.&uot;

Keeping a diary isn’t much better for me now than it was then. I enjoy my life, but I find the things my friends do are much more interesting. Even more interesting are the adventures of people I read about in books.

I can’t imagine being gleeful about the cold of any January when I can stay warmly inside with a good book.

(Love Cruikshank is an Albert Lea resident. Her column runs Thursday.)