Falling Through the Ice

Photo by Bryan Rodriguez on Unsplash

Dropping out of college and moving to Wisconsin to follow my family seemed like a splendid plan. I was attending university in West Virginia and floundering—oh if I’d only majored in English as my secret heart wanted, but no. I chose pre-med. I wasn’t just floundering; I was lost and drowning.

I grew up in California, Hawaii, and the southern part of the east coast. When I was 14, we moved to West Virginia, where there was regular snow and winter. I liked it. It was such a change to have 4-seasons. 

My dad began his second career and transferred to Milwaukee. I had been a military brat, and home had never been a place–it was a group of people. My floundering became frantic when my folks left. 

I moved. 

I didn’t understand about Wisconsin winters. I thought winter was winter–a sort of uniform experience.

Oh my.

I moved in October. There was already snow on the ground. Deep snow. Cold snow. It was the winter of 78-79. Some of you may remember the gawdawful spectacle that Ma Nature put on. Snow to the rafters, subzero, blizzard after blizzard.

If I could have gotten my car unstuck from the snowdrift it was then parked in, I would have left.

Folks in Wisconsin remarked that it was a rather brutal winter, but it didn’t stop anything. Events weren’t canceled. The Super Bowl parties continued during a blizzard. I was astonished at how much clothing I had to wear to be merely miserable instead of dying of hypothermia. And that was indoors.

What really astonished me, though, was ice fishing. 

I thought those people insane. Wisconsin has many lakes, and we lived on Pewaukee Lake–about 40 minutes west of Milwaukee. I would be on my way to work and see those people out on the lake in the early morning. Little shacks. Big coats and fishing rods and nets.

I can’t imagine a love of fishing and/or a love of fresh fish enough to sit on a frozen lake in windy subzero temperatures. And I love a good fish fry. But, um, no.

Just no. 

Folks would snowmobile on the lake. And even take their cars out there. 

I had once fallen through the ice–in northern Michigan. I was a stupid little girl who had grown up on beaches. I didn’t understand that it took a while for ice to get thick enough.

I was communing with nature–a 12-year-old hippie wannabe. Lost in the romantic thoughts of a precocious preteen, I walked onto the ice and heard that sound that I now associate with pure terror. 

I plunged into the lake. 

My floundering became frantic.

My God.

There are no words for that kind of cold. Just. No. Words.

I was alone but fortunate. It wasn’t deep, and I was able to wade out. My coat dripping and my body one gigantic shiver.

I ran as fast as I could through the snow to my aunt and uncle’s house. I was the only person there. I had been left alone at my request. 

Peeling off my clothes until I was naked, I stood over the heating vent in the bathroom. I couldn’t get warm. 

I tried to turn the thermostat up. I wasn’t sure what I was doing. I hadn’t grown up with thermostats. The furnace finally came to life and blasted me with warm air. I found a blanket. And dry clothes. 

Using still frozen fingers, I made hot chocolate. 

I eventually warmed, but it seemed like eons passed before I could move my hands without pain.

That experience scarred me.

I couldn’t drive past those ice fishing people without worrying about them. Some of them were so far out, and Pewaukee Lake was deep.

So very deep.

And there they sat with their little shacks. Little holes cut in the ice. Big coats. Coats that could drag them down under the ice if it cracked. Courting death. And I didn’t understand why they did it.

I still don’t.

I remember the cold of that lake in Michigan.

This has been a long winter. The last two years have just been surreal. I feel like I fell through the ice of life. I’m out now. Warm and dry. Wary, but also optimistic. 

COVID-19: Day 93: Moody

Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

I’m in a mood today.  I’m as gray and cloudy as is it outside right now.

It’s technically Day 93 of my social-distancing at home.  I was at the office for two full days last week.  Hoo boy!  The bustle and noise of downtown Huntington just did me in.  It’s quiet here on my hill — very quiet.  It seems I have adapted.  Just getting to Huntington set my nerves on edge — I have about a half-hour commute.  As far as commutes go, it’s not bad, but when you’ve been pretty much nowhere for 80-odd days, the traffic is surprising and unsettling.  So much so that here it is Sunday, my favorite day of the week, and I’m still unsettled.

I was in the office to do battle with the Never-Ending Tech Problems of June 2020.  Truly, my nerves are shot.  I’ve spent hours in tech support trying to sort out email problems.  The good news is we are moving the whole kit ‘n caboodle to cloud-based this week.  The downside of that is that I will need to spend most of this coming week in the office.

Tomorrow is Chef Boy ‘R Mine’s birthday.  That should cheer me up so that this mood does not persist much longer.  Truly, I can’t stand myself right now, so here’s to hoping I get over my first world problems and develop some gratitude for the life of privilege that I live.

Desperate for Tranquility

Here is a video of my Hawaii photos from the 2017 Very Epic Mother’s Day Vacation to Oahu and Maui.

I am desperate for tranquility. The world is too much with me.

The World Is Too Much With Us

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.