Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Winter Is Here to Stay? Those Winters of My Past...

I climbed into the Intrepid this morning(forgoing the cold Jeep Wrangler, which, with "rag top", never warms up enough on days like these) for a trip to snap some photos of fishing holes I used to frequent.  I wanted to get some shots of the early ice on the "ponds".  As I pulled out of the drive, the in-car thermometer read 9 degrees.  The extended forecast, with the exception of maybe the mid 30s for Friday and Saturday, along with some snow/rain mix, doesn't look any better...highs mostly in the teens and 20s, with low reaching into the single digits next week for the prelude to Christmas.

Winters of my Past_____

It is rare, even here in the lower Heartland, to see a spell of cold weather that lasts this long, this early in the season.  Here we are still two full weeks ahead of official Winter, and the area rivers and Grand Lake have already started to freeze over...and it doesn't look like a warming spell anytime soon, to cause them to melt.  Despite it being rare, I have encountered Winters that have started early and stuck around...some in Ohio and a couple in other locations that I called "home" for lesser periods.

Even Florida is suffering under a cold break as I type...I think my youngest sister said it got down as low as 50 in Naples the other night, and in the north stretches near DeLand, where my buddy Tom works the horse ranch in the "cold" season, he called saying the high yesterday was only 51 or that's cold for Florida, especially this early.

After a decade of living in Venice, Florida, our family pulled up roots in the fall of 1962 and moved back north to Ohio.  I was in 8th grade, and remember that move and the winter that followed all too well.  The winter of 62/63 was bitter....and not just because we were used to the seasons in South Florida.  It was a bitter time.  I recall having my ear tops frost bitten, in a mile or so walk from Celina East School to Dad's Marathon on South Main Street...that winter was nasty cold, with plenty of snow to accompany it.

Other winters that stick out in my mind are those of 76/77 in Celina, and the brutal winters of 77/78 and 78/79 which were Patricia and my first, 2nd, and final, in the Northwoods, living in a farmhouse outside of Wausau, Wisconsin.  Here is an early blog installment of my experience in Wisconsin during the "Blizzard of the Century" in January 1978:

We moved back to Ohio in the early 80s, living on Coldwater Creek Road in the ancient brick farmhouse located on the Andrews property.  The winters of 81/82 through 83/84 were packed with snow and plenty of sub zero temperatures...they were indeed "brutal".  Since that time, the winters have moderated somewhat, although I attribute much of that to the fact we moved into town in 1995, and the former Church Parsonage we call home, is, although old(built in 1923), is much better insulated, and with full basement, much more comfortable than that great old house(at least in Summer and Fall) on the creek.  This winter, at least the way it is starting, is hearkening back to those winters of my past.

The winters in Venice, all those years ago, are almost impossible to separate, in my mind, from the "hot" season...yes, South Florida had some cold days, but not many.  I remember Mike and I would take fire crackers(purchased in Georgia on our trips back from Ohio vacations) and "blow up" the ice on our School Street, front yard birdbath....those were the days, that saw the temps dip into the 20s...that however, was a rare occasion.

Rome, New York 1970-71____

The winter that sticks out in my mind as much as any, probably has to be the one after I returned from Vietnam, and always made me wonder, "Why the Hell didn't I just extend my tour at Tan Son Nhut"?  I had my chance, but I chose to accept the assignment to Griffiss Air Force Base.  On top of being lied to(imagine that in the military?) about my duties, I wasn't quite prepared for the Chicken Crap (which was why I volunteered for Nam anyway) or the brutal cold and heavy snow in the Mohawk Valley, that awaited me.

I arrived on base, in early August of 1970...Winter set in about 2 months later.  My new Mercury Cyclone was buried in the Security Police Barracks parking lot by Christmas, and I didn't get it out until sometime in March.  In all we had 300 inches of snow that winter, and I'm not lying when I say the piles of white along the runways at The Griff, did not melt until the July 4th holiday of 1971. I did however learn how to snow ski...Snow Ridge at Turin NY, was where my buddy, the late Jack Friedl, learned just enough to not get ourselves killed when going down the hills and wooded trails of Snow Ridge, although at times I wonder how we made it without serious bodily injury.  That winter of 70/71, I don't think it ever ended, just went right on into the winter of 71/72.

So that is what I thought of this morning, when I went out to take photos of the early arriving season....and am left wondering, "Will this be one of THOSE Winters"?  Time will tell...and I'll stick it out as best as I am able.

back later>>>>

Photos-{double click to enlarge} The top 2 are photos taken at the Palmer Road Bridge at the St. Marys River,  near Mendon.  The next 2 are of our driveway during and after a Blizzard in March 1979 at the farm between Wausau, and Merrill, Wisconsin.  The car is where I managed to park it after driving through the storm to get home.   The 3rd of those three is of the aging farm buildings from the winter on Coldwater Creek Road, after one of the snows in the winter of 83/84.  The bottom photo is of me, in January 1971 as the snow piled up in the Security Police Barracks parking lot at Griffiss AFB, New York....that is indeed me,  needing a haircut(according to Air Force Regs) packing a snowball as the living quarters frame the background.


Cookie..... said...

Thought y'all might just mention yur winter recreational stay at "The Griff". Right now as I type this, there is an official 48 inches of snow on the ground(and its still snowing our beloved "Lake Effect Snow" AND AN UNOFFICIAL 53 INCHES IN MY LOCATION, Bridgeport, NY.

If'n you want to relive that time spent at "The Griff", just pay us visit real soon as theres much more snow in the forecast!! :-)

PRH....... said...

Just 53 Inches so far? A might disappointed in you guys Cookie, but I have faith you will reach that 300 level before April :) I've got those photos of my buried Cyclone somewhere, will have to dig them out.