Frances Edstrom

Bugs and all, summer wins


by Frances Edstrom

Winter would be a nice time of year if it weren't so darn cold. I came to work on Monday dressed reasonably for January, I thought. By lunch time, I went home and put on an undershirt.

I met a man as we both scurried into a building, teeth chattering, and he told me it was going to be well below zero by nightfall. We held a short discussion on the benefits of electric blankets and heating pads.

Everywhere I drive, I see snowmobiles haphazardly beached on frozen lawns, as though left after a flood, high, dry and useless. Snow, as far as most of us are concerned, is the one single thing that saves winter from being unbearable, and unless you go to a ski hill, where they can make their own snow, there has been precious little of the stuff for several years. I think my cross-country skis are in the garage, but I haven't looked for them in a long, long, time. Ditto my snowshoes, which I remember with much fondness, sort of like my old Betsy Wetsy doll.

If we don't get snow soon, all those skis and snowshoes and shovels and snowblowers will end up in antique stores, and people will say, "What do you suppose they used that for?"

But even with no snow, I can't disabuse my friends from other parts of the country of the notion that we live under a huge pile of white stuff from October to May. After grade school, there isn't much emphasis on geography in the U.S. To most people who live in the east, south and west, the middle of the country is one big state called North Daminnwisionebill, and they can't imagine life in what they envision as what we envision to be the Yukon Territory.

Not too long ago (well, actually, I guess it was a while, if a while is over twenty years) when we lived on the ridge, it snowed so much we were afraid to let the kids out for fear they'd get lost in the drifts. I drove an AMC Gremlin, which, if anyone remembers, was a step up from a roller skate, and was about as useful in snow. It was family entertainment to pile the kids in the car, with the intention of going to ballet lessons, or the grocery store. We'd strap them in and drive straight into a drift, back up, drive straight into it again, and eventually, either bulldoze through or give up, unbuckle the kids and trek on back to the house to wait for the township plow. We didn't have to make soup out of ketchup or melt snow to boil up old shoe leather, but there were often some very creative meals while we holed up in our drafty little house.

Actually, it was probably those days that gave our kids their love of books, before satellite dish television.

I turn to books and crossword puzzles on these cold, cold days. I get home from work, ignore the dog, who looks longingly at his leash, and settle in with a good book and an afghan. When John gets home, I sometimes switch to a crossword puzzle, so that I can interrupt him while he's reading to ask him what a nine letter word for a 46 B.C. visitor to Rome might be.

When the metro Sunday papers come, I gaze longingly at the ads for cruises and trips to Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Then I read the world news and the advice columns to assure myself that there are people with real problems and I should feel lucky to be cozy in my house and have good books to read.

I just can't help it. I'm looking forward to summer, bugs and all.


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