Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

October 29, 2013

Keep on shining, Mr. Sun

Cathie Shaffer
The Independent

ASHLAND — I suggest no one tell me how many days it is until Christmas until I have the last of the storm windows in.

Don’t ask my plans for Thanksgiving until this Halloween is another one for the books.

Please don’t fill me in on a great sale on boots or the new winter coat you got until I manage to get my summer clothes put away.

Cold weather is not my forte. I am a child of the sun who loves basking in the summer rays. I adore going barefoot across the grass, sleeping with fans blowing across my bed and camping in the great outdoors.

Spare me winter. Don’t wistfully wish it would snow or tell me how much you like to see icicles hanging off eaves.

Yes, I am a child of the northern climes. I have been bundled into snow boots, had my feet covered with two pairs of socks shoved into oversized boots and gone to face the world in a ski mask and a scarf around my neck.

I’ve also come in with tears frozen to my cheeks wailing about freezing to death. I’ve been plunked into tepid baths to warm up and had my toes and fingers inspected for frostbite.

So many wonderful memories from my past linger in my mind but so do some pretty bad ones as well. Like getting the car stuck in a drift stuck and pouring kitty litter under the tires to attempt to get myself unstuck before I died of exposure.

Of wrapping myself like a mummy to shovel the driveway only to have to do it all over again in a couple of hours when the stupid thing drifted shut again.

I don’t miss the power outages from ice and heavy show taking down the lines once or twice a year or having to make sure I added dry gas when I filled the tank so the car’s engine wouldn’t stall on me.

But of all the miserable memories the coming of cold weather brings, the worst is dear departed Hubby and his old Ford truck.

That truck was a stalwart soldier, taking all sorts of abuse and never letting him down. Unless the temperature dropped below zero and the wind blew, that is.

He happened to work a factory shift from 2:30 to 10:30 in the morning. On snowy days, he’d leave a little over an hour early to make sure he could take it safe and slow.

A day or two a month, he’d go out to fire up the old Ford and it just sat there. So he’d climb the steps to our bedroom, shake me awake and say, “Babe, you have to take me to work.”

That is so not what anyone wants to hear an hour or so after they’ve gone to bed. But I was a dutiful wife and of course, I wasn’t going to let him down.

So I’d climb out from underneath the electric blanket, waking from the shock when my feet hit the chilly floor. I’d pull sweat pants on under my flannel nightie, put a sweat shirt over it and stumble down the stairs.

Hubby stood and waited while I added my winter coat, my socks and boots, gloves and the aforementioned ski cap and scarf. I’d follow him to the garage, where he’d already started the car warming, and climb in on the front passenger side.

We’d make the eight-mile drive in a half hour or less, depending on the roads. He’d get out, I’d slide behind the wheel and back home I’d head.

All of this was accomplished in silence until the very end. As he got out, he’d always say “See you tonight” and wait for the only response I was capable of at that obscene hour:

“Uh-huh.”