My buddy Turk called me this week complaining about the incessant cold and asked for advice.
As I recall, the conversation went like this:
"Yo Nick, this chill is freezing the elements in my carbon based life form. My karma has a crystallized aura and I'm grumpier than a butt kicked wolverine. Got any suggestions ta thaw my funk?"
"Get a grip Turk." I answered. "Are moose backing their rumps up to your windows trying to warm up? Are the blocks of ice bobbing in the bay in front of your cabin getting so big they can be designated alternative runways?"
"Well no, but I've put so many trees through my wood stove lately that I'm considering flagging down logging trucks for direct delivery. If this keeps up I'll use up more timber than all of the print outs of last year's unread bills passed by Congress. I'm talkin' the annihilation of a national forest here. It's depressing."
"Keep the faith Bro. I just checked the ten-day forecast and there's a warming trend headed our way. Does that sound better?"
"Matter of fact, it does." Turk growled. "This crud reminds me of working with you in the high north. Remember back in '89 when we were messing around between Prospect Creek and the Yukon? The static temperature at one old well house bottomed out at minus 70. You could throw hot java in the air and it would freeze before hitting the ground.
"Man, it was so nasty that if you weren't careful when you jumped back in your rig, your long johns shattered. If I remember right, new flashlight batteries lasted about three and a half seconds, candle flames froze and diesel fuel became so thick we had to buy it by the pound."
"You got the temp and the coffee right dude," I laughed. "But I think the other recollections might be the result of your brain cells suffering acute frostbite.
"I do recall that it was frigid enough that if a slight breeze came through while you were working outside the wind chill would take you down like a toilet with a ten-gallon flush cycle. Things were so frosty that if you were in the open without the proper headgear and sneezed you'd ended up picking your ears off the ground. Luckily, when it's that cold, the air's so frozen it can't move."
"I don't think I was the only one that had brain cells ice up," grumped Turk. "I have to admit though, as distorted as they are, those seasoned memories make this particular bitter spell a bit more tolerable."
"Yeah, it puts things in perspective, doesn't it?"
"'Spose so," he snorted. "You just better pray it doesn't warm up so much it rains, 'member last year and Wild Willie?"
"Yeah, that boy's wound way too tight. Maybe it's about time for him to start drinking his coffee rather than snorting the grounds direct from the grinder. Sometimes he acts like he has an IQ score one point north of his dog's food bowl and three points shy of its chew stick.
"I still can't believe he showed up during a rain deluge looking for opinions on how to keep his truck bed fastened to the frame of his flatbed, Death Wish II.
"He was finally convinced that the bungee cord tie downs wouldn't cut it after his fifth equipment violation and a court order to have the wreck euthanized.
"It was stunning that he made it down our hill road. The track was covered with compact snow and quickly morphing into something akin to an oiled ice rink. His tires were so bald that they lost traction on dry pavement if the humidity reached 50 per cent. It was amazing that he didn't skid pass our place and launch into the bay.
"The guy must have an intern guardian angel frantic to earn its wings."
"That's a fact," Turk rumbled. "I don't know how he's kept that thing running. The only discernible light he's ever had on that beater was an engine fire.
"I heard he ended up spending the night. How'd that work out for you?"
"Oh just great, the next morning W and I decided to be heroes and make a test of the hill with my bride's Explorer to see if it was feasible for her to make it work.
"I made it about halfway up before the studs and four-wheel-drive lost grip and the beast started sliding backwards. Fortunately I lightly tagged a berm, did a one-eighty and managed a controlled slide back into the yard where I solemnly informed her that she would have to wait until the sander showed up.
"She just smiled, opened the back of the rig and produced a set of chains."
"'I usually put these on,' she quipped and got ready to head for town.
"W.W. and I just stared at each other."
"Seems like you can make a chew stick look brilliant sometimes too, huh, bro?" Turk snickered.
Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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