So, this is what it's like to die, I thought to myself. Frozen to death.
I could feel my body starting to shut down. It was getting harder and harder to breathe, difficult to keep going, hard to put one foot in front of the other. I wasn't sure I could feel my hands, feet or face any longer.
It was my own fault, of course.
I was improperly dressed for wintertime in Minnesota. No hat, no mittens, no scarf. And, it was bitterly cold and dark and I was all alone.
Suddenly, I saw a light and heard a voice.
"Honey, when you are done taking the recyclables out to the curb, could you run to Juba's for some things?" my wife called from the back door.
Welcome to my world of being a native of Southern California and trying to survive winter in Minnesota.
I shouldn't joke, of course. There have been many people who have not survived it. I had a friend once who tried to drive home in a blizzard while under the influence, got stuck in a snow drift and then tried to walk the one more mile home.
He didn't make it.
A long time ago, my humorous narrative to start this column almost was true for me as well.
I was driving the completed pasted up newspaper pages to the printing plant in blizzard conditions and I got stuck on a lonely road in the middle of nowhere. That time I did have proper clothing and a shovel and dug my way out of the snow, got back on the road, reversed direction and slowly made it back to the last little town I had gone through to seek shelter.
I made it to the printing plant later the next day, when the roads finally got cleared.
I did two things later that week. I went out and bought a vehicle with all-wheel drive and I purchased one of those new-fangled devices that had just come out, something called a cellular phone. It came in a bag and stayed in your vehicle.
One question that has always puzzled me is, how do animals survive a Minnesota winter? I know they all hunker down and some hibernate. And just like the humans here in Minnesota do, many of the smart ones fly off to Florida, Texas or Arizona. But, really, how do the squirrels, deer and chipmunks survive the bitter cold?
I know part of the answer is that not all of them do.
What I really want to know, however, is, how do all those dang mosquitoes, biting gnats and Asian beetles survive? And why? Why don't they all die out when it is 20 below?
But no. The first warm day in April and they will all be back.
This past week it was cold almost everywhere in the U.S., from the West Coast to the East Coast and even through a lot of the south. Atlanta was down to 32 degrees for a high temp and expecting up to five inches of snow over the weekend.
Of course, contrast that with Duluth, which was at 35 degrees below zero actual temperature (not wind chill) last Wednesday morning and we see the difference 67 degrees can be.
I guess it is all a matter of what you are used to. Atlanta's 32 degrees would feel pretty balmy here.
Last week it wasn't just the freezing cold temperatures, however, that got to us. No, we had the double whammy where it had been warm enough the end of December and first of January to have rain in Minnesota. That wetness, of course, was flash-frozen and turned every street, sidewalk and parking lot in Blue Earth into skating rinks.
So, not only was it too cold for us older folks to be outside, it was also dangerous, as we all did our little-old-lady shuffle walk to try and keep from falling and breaking a hip. Or, in my case, suffering another rotator cuff injury that took a year to recover from last time I fell on the ice.
OK, I know. I should quit my whining.
It's January. It's Minnesota. And, it's cold. That should not be big shocking news to anyone.
Besides, by the time you read this issue of the Faribault County Register, it should be much more reasonable temperatures. You know, like temperatures in the double digits above zero. Of course, that usually means more snow will be on the way.
Here's hoping you stay warm and safe this winter. And maybe you can get a chance to be out and enjoy some skiing, sledding, snowmobiling and even some ice fishing. You know, embrace winter and enjoy it.
Me, I will be making plans for heading south to somewhere warmer for a break from all this.
I probably won't be headed to Atlanta, however.