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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


February 7, 2004 - Issue 106


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Life at 40 Below Calls for Common Sense, Good Car

by Dorreen Yellow Bird Grand Forks Herald
Note from Vicki: As a transplanted Louisianian, this woman can relate!!!!

WinterLike bugs, we're are firmly under the thumb of the icy arctic. Squirm as we might, we're in for the duration. If you don't live in the Northern states, you truly are missing a unique experience - a good experience.

Here's where I duck paper clips, empty Styrofoam cups and spitballs from the rest of the Herald's newsroom.

How do we tell that this is record-setting cold?

You can tell it's really cold by the different sound the snow makes when you walk on it at minus 44 degrees. Lift one flap of your "mad bomber" cap and listen: It sounds like someone rubbing a big balloon very hard.

If it's a water balloon, don't fear if it breaks because the water instantly turns to snow or ice. Yes, we can boil a pan of water, open the door and throw it into the air, and the Spirit of the North will touch it and magically, it's snow.

That's something you can't do in Florida or Texas - and don't say that even if you lived there, you wouldn't want to. You don't know what you are missing until you've lived here and seen the magic of creating your own snowstorm.

Don't, for any reason or whatever the dare, put your tongue on metal in this weather. You will be awthul thoree.

This is a time to stand by your car. Kicking, cussing or pleading with the shiny metal won't help. If the whining of your car is reasonably loud - it rattles and grumbles - it probably will start.

Many of the Southern cars like to hibernate in weather like this. And if you hear a feeble cough, cough and then a click, click, you have to worry. Start thinking about bank loans and holes in your checking account or thumbing a ride to work for a few days.

I visited Oklahoma a few summers ago. A couple on the street happened to notice my car had a cord and a plug-in coming out of the hood. They thought I had an electric car. Nooooo, I said; that is a block heater for winter. There was a look of fear on their faces. They had heard about North Dakota winters and didn't want to know any more.

I guess when you've lived through tornadoes that can take you to the Land of Oz and thunder and lightning storms that will can scare the "bejeezus" out of you, arctic weather sounds too much to endure.

There is a kind of badge of strength and honor to have a car so tough that you don't have to plug it in or garage it. But saying "I've never had to plug my car in," is asking for the car gods to take away your driving privileges.

That real test of that statement comes in weather such as we've had these past few days - minus 29, minus 35 then the record setter, minus 44 Friday. I plug my car in, put it in the garage and even ask if the old Toyota wanted a nice thick blanket. I baby my car and have great respect for it. Hear that, car gods?

You do need your car. You do not want to be on foot in this weather. I emptied the trash at minus 35 Thursday; I accidentally threw my glove into the big trash container and couldn't get it. But it was so cold, my hand was burning by the time I got back to my apartment, a little more than a few yards away.

And there was a little wind that day. Wind makes the cold much worse - you know, the wind-chill factor. Today, at minus 44 with very little wind, it's probably about 60 below. How's that for chilly?

When the night is still and cold like it was last night, the sky is magnificent. The stars are clear and the half moon seems as though you can reach up and touch it. Unfortunately, you can enjoy that beautiful night only for a few minutes or risk becoming a permanent fixture on your lawn.

Have heart, people of the North: February is coming, then March, and we will be out of the freeze and looking for the purple crocus - harbinger of summer. In spite of the wonders of the Arctic freeze, that sounds good to me.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

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