When it's so cold everything in your nose freezes up, it's time to stay home.
I began to suffer from cabin fever soon after the first frost, which seems like forever ago. Watching the last pepper plant wilt and the mums slowly die, it's enough to convince me to move to Florida or transform the unused ping-pong table into a miniature nursery.
Freezing weather makes me think of Dad and how he’d go into ice age mode, with every faucet dripping and plastic bags on anything that might allow cold air into the house.
During one of our infamous winter storms, I would struggle to get in his front door because of numerous phone books, a stack of newspapers and several towels blocking the draft. Flashlights had been checked and positioned in every room.
His boots, still wet, were sitting by the furnace vent.
"Have you been outside?" I asked, knowing he’d probably lie and say he hadn’t, after our lengthy discussion about not going out and taking a chance of falling on the ice.
"Do bears fly?" he answered.
"Why are your boots wet?"
During these conversations, I’d have feelings of reverse déjà vu, of him asking me, "Did you sneak out last night?" Knowing I’d probably lie, he’d produce the evidence to convict me. These conversations were comical, scary and sad all mixed up into one strange emotion.
He finally admitted he had gone out earlier to break the ice in the birdbath. It wasn't worth debating. Worrying about the birdbath is still less dangerous than his life-threatening episode the winter before.
Icy tree limbs were lying on the power line, so Dad decided to do some tree trimming in the middle of a snowstorm. Somehow he mistook the power line for a tree limb – luckily with a fiberglass-handled tree trimmer, or he would have electrocuted himself.
The next summer, the power company asked permission to put all the lines underground. Dad raised all kinds of commotion as they dug a trench from the power pole to the house, all the while grumbling he didn't want his lines buried. I thought the fretting would stop when the job was finished, but he spent the rest of the summer complaining about the grass, which had to be replanted.
As we sat there, looking out the window at the ice-ridden birdbaths, Dad said, "Aren't you glad I dug those trenches for the power company and made them bury my lines?"
All I could think of to say was, "Do bears fly?"
I miss taking care of Dad, but especially our conversations – which, more times than not, were anything but normal.
My sister and I talk on the phone often, especially when we can’t see each other. It cracks me up, as we’ve moved into that chapter in our lives when our conversations can be peculiar and we’re the only ones who can follow our story lines.
Gives a whole new meaning to the term “brain freeze,” when there’s no ice cream involved.
Sandy Turner is a mom, grandma, former caretaker and retired journalist living in Missouri.