Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

It'll Take a Heat Wave to Get Me to Leave My House Again

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

It'll Take a Heat Wave to Get Me to Leave My House Again

Article excerpt

There comes a time in every winter hermit's life when he has to venture out of his cave to see if the temperature has risen above 32 degrees F. The other day I did just that, and discovered that 21 straight days of subfreezing temperatures had come to an end. This also meant that it was time to do my pre-spring chores.

The first thing I did was wander out to survey the damage caused by the town's efforts to keep the road clear of the snows of winter. To my dismay, the fluorescent marker I use to find the drainage pipe (which directs spring-thaw waters away from my house, thus keeping my basement from turning into an indoor swimming pool) was either buried under a mountain of snow or had been deposited at the other side of town.

For a minute, I contemplated whether it was the right time to begin my search. But the weather person had predicted temperatures nearing 40 degrees. If this was true, all the snow would turn into torrents of water that had better be able to flow away from my home.

So I grabbed my rubber boots and shovel and put some rock salt in a bucket so I could melt the ice dam that was sure to be blocking the runoff pipe.

I then surveyed the snow that covered my front yard. The winds had scoured it into an Arctic Sahara of sculpted dunes. To my surprise, I was able to walk on the thick crust that had formed because of the prolonged subfreezing temperatures.

Halfway through my quest to locate the pipe, I glanced back at the house, observed my wife watching me from the window, and felt comforted that she was looking out for me. I paused to give her a wave, heard a soft crackling sound, and began to descend into the snow.

For some reason, all I could think about was how I shouldn't have eaten those last two slices of pizza the night before. I sank slowly past my knees, past my thighs, and kept going until I was all the way up to my waist. Then I stopped.

What stopped me was not my feet touching the bottom, but the saddle of crusted snow between my legs - which would not give way and, instead, began to transform itself, with increasingly painful pressure, into an ice-cold wedgie.

For a long, agonizing moment I hung there, suspended on a pinnacle of ice, while my weight kept dragging me down. The only good side I could see to my predicament was that I had no plans for any future expansion of my family.

I looked back at my wife and forced a confident grin and saw her shake her head in a way that I have seen many times before in our marriage of 30 years.

I attempted to move forward, then backward, but all I succeeded in doing was packing the snow into a narrower and narrower wedgie. I decided I would just have to claw my way out. I reached out over the snow, dug deep hand holds, and slowly hauled myself back out onto the crusty surface. …

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