November 16th…“DID YOU EVER EXPERIENCE FROSTBITE, AS A LITTLE BOY, ON YOUR FARM IN SOUTHERN MINNESOTA?”
A trillion snow diamonds were awakened by the frost-imbued sunlight of that Winter’s morning. I bundled my little boy’s body for an excursion into the white expanse of our 120 acres of arctic adventure that existed for me to enjoy on our farm northwest of Kiester, Minnesota. I was infused with the fascination that, with every step and tilt of my head, a new treasure trove of brilliant “snow jewels” sparkled and beckoned me to feel richer than old King Solomon himself. To my festive imagination, I owned Minnesota’s storehouse of frozen gems.
From the time of my birth to being the ripe old age of about 8 years old, or so, our sweet mother, bless her heart, had acquired an overwhelming abundance of Winter-proofing paraphernalia for me to wear from head to foot. From my first toe entering my set of long-johns, all the way to the multiple layers of sweaters, coats, gloves, scarves and heavy mittens…….I was one extremely turgid, tiny toddler. Added to this menagerie, were my shoes inside my heavy, rubber Winter boots. By golly, I looked like a shrunken version of the Frankenstein monster as I waddled out the back porch door and into the below freezing temperatures. But, after physically adjusting to this very warm, layered lifestyle, I soon found my gait and was on my way for fun.
As this minuscule midget meandered merrily along, I couldn’t help but notice that the crispy-clear morning I started with had quickly dissipated and was fast being replaced by gray skies that brought with them a tempest wind that began to show it’s own brand of voice, as if wailing a Winter war cry. After tromping in the snow around the immediate farmyard near our cozy home, I set off hiking down to the cow-lane that ran parallel with the gravel road adjacent to our property. It was along that lane that I discovered that barbed wire could “sing”! With the ensuing blizzard around me, I encountered higher and higher snow drifts as I traversed that fence-line. Every attempted step I made to the crusted surface of snow resulted in my body sinking into the snow up to my thighs and hips. What was intriguing to my young ears, though, as I struggled for each step, was a three-part harmony, of sorts, in the way the screeching wind played upon the three top strands of barbed wire that ran from post to post in our fenceline; making them “sing” or “whistle” in various scales depending on the velocity of the wind at a given moment. The storm was singing to me in it’s own unique way.
Oblivious to the time I had spent on this frigid adventure, I eventually noticed that I could no longer feel the piercing cold in my feet anymore. I thought it a bit strange, a new phenomenon for me, yet I decided to go on a bit farther in my quest. Eventually, though, I thought it best to trod-n-plod my way back to our farm home and its warm refuge. As I de-layered myself and stepped into the warmth of our country kitchen, I told my dear mom about the fact that I could no longer feel my feet. With a terse word and concerned look to her caring face, she informed me of the dangers of something called “frostbite”. In her wisdom, she counseled that it was a good thing I came home when I did, for this type of frostbite was in its early stages and, hopefully, was able to be remedied without further damage to my toes or feet.
Our mother, Clarice, instructed me to sit sideways, across the soft arms of our large “easy chair”, and tenderly place my bare feet on the very warm exterior surface walls of the furnace that sat in our family Living Room. Since I initially had no feeling in my feet, she cautioned me stringently to NOT let my feet sit on that warm furnace wall for more than a few seconds at a time. If I left them sizzling on that hot surface too long, I’d end up burning my feet instead of helping them thaw and come back to feeling once again. So, to pass the time in this “therapy session”, what better thing was there for a little boy to do but run across the room and turn on the television set as we watched cartoons for a fun, long time. All in all though, even with my frostbite, I thought this had been a grand day! A fence “sang” to me, I had seen God’s “diamonds” in the snow and I now got to watch lots of cartoons while the feeling came back into the feet of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!! 😉