Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Reminder of Frigid Morning's Past


December 23, 1983, dawned crisp and cold and blustery in Jamestown, North Dakota. It was my first "Christmas" after my divorce and I was feeling anything but festive. Looking out my living room window that morning made me realize that living in the subarctic of North Dakota had to end and some time very soon.

Adding insult to injury I turned on the local radio station and discovered that the air temperature at the Jamestown airport was -42 degrees F. With it came a blistering 40 mile per hour wind out of the northwest. The last time the wind had seen a tree or anything else that could knock out some of its energy was a few thousand miles northwest in Saskatchewan.

Combining the temperature and the wind speed, the local National Weather Service office declared that the wind chill was -106 degrees F. That's right - one hundred six degrees below zero. This was totally unacceptable.

At mid morning I received a phone call from a friend who had her car plugged in so it would be able to start. Unfortunately the heater for her motor froze!! Once my car was started I went to her house and tried to fix her car. I was dressed completely in wool - from a wool cap down to wool socks inside wool linings of my Arctic boots. I could stay out in the weather for five minutes maximum and then had to come in for 10 to 15 minutes to warm up.

The next day, Christmas Eve 1983, I decided that at the first opportunity I was going to move from North Dakota to escape the miserable cold. That opportunity came in April the following year when I started traveling in the Bahamas, mon.

Every year on December 23 I think back to that ridiculously frigid morning in North Dakota. I contrast that morning with, say, this morning where I'm looking out my living room window at herons and egrets foraging on a wetland that is lined with palm trees. I think I made the right decision long ago.

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