There’s only so much a poor soul can take! In all my years of Wisconsin living, 18 to be exact, I have never experienced this kind of cold. Human beings and barn cats and horses and naughty lab dogs are not meant for such harshness. Well, maybe the kids? Just kidding.
So this morning, I’m the patron saint of mothers, dressed in pure white robe (except for the coffee stain on my pocket). I drive our 15 year-old man-child to the end of our long country driveway to catch the bus because, after all, it’s still a bit nippy out there and I wouldn’t want his no-longer-pudgy cheeks to freeze while waiting for his ride.
As we make our way to the road, I hand him my steaming hot Starbucks so I can kill the DING DING DINGING of my obnoxious Toyota that insists I wear a seat belt on my own driveway.
“There! SATISFIED?” I yell at the car because I find great delight in yelling at inanimate objects that can’t talk back. All I hear in response to my rant is a gentle “Click.” Metal inserted into dark plastic square gives comfort from fear of deer herds springing out of nowhere, plowing into my Toyota, threatening our lives—on our own driveway. Thank God for DINGING!
It’s still dark as can be so I turn what I think is the headlight lever and discover it’s the windshield washer. Quicker than I knew possible—the liquid freezes. Suddenly, I discover what people older than I experience with cataracts. Vague images. No matter. I’m on my own driveway. I know this landscape and I EXPECT the running deer herds! But where are they this morning?
I turn the car around to face the house so I can make my tire-screaming get-away as soon as the Twinkie-shaped orange vehicle stops and picks up our son. I put the car in park. Son, dressed in lime green snowboarding jacket, hands my coffee back. Taking my first hot sip of pleasure, a Scripture suddenly comes to mind . . .
O STARBUCKS! THOU ART GROSS! THOU HAS BECOME LUKEWARM! I SHOULD SPEW THEE OUT OF MY MOUTH! (I think that’s a revelation.) But I’m desperate for caffeine so I drink and am satisfied, ever so slightly.
Nonchalantly, I ask my son, “Son, how cold is it?” knowing he has an attachment disorder called IPod-In-Ear. I heal him quickly by pulling the plug. This piece of insanely expensive technology connects to cyberspace and can give me the latest temperature in precise locations. I NEED to know TRUTH!
He says it with no emotion. So I make up for his lack of expression.
At precisely 6:48 AM, he who sits in darkness hears a great scream (I think I’m sort of quoting Isaiah here).
“NEGATIVE EIGHTEEEEEEEEEEN?????!!!!!! Give me that thing!” I squeal louder than pedal-to-the-metal rubber tires on road as I grab the IPod.
Sure enough, the number 18 with a little minus sign in front lingers on finger-printed touch screen. That’s one negative degree for each year I’ve lived in this state, which some call crazy.
“No WONDER my legs are freezing from my knees down!” I cry. Why only legs from knees to ankles? Because knees to ankles is my only flesh not covered in terrycloth, save my face which is quite warm now due to exaggerated emotional display. My feet are nestled in fluffy pink slippers. See?
Suddenly, I give my adolescent man-child TOO MUCH INFORMATION.
“Well, THIS is the reason I don’t shave my legs from December to May!” It’s not true really, but I like to provide frequent mental stimulation for my children so at least their brains don’t freeze this time of year.
He says, with a look of disgust on his face thinking (I just know it!), “Really? She doesn’t shave her legs from December to May? Wonder what Dad thinks of THAT?” . . .
He ignores my comment but smiles.
“Don’t worry Mom, the bus will be here soon.”
Let the drama begin! He hasn’t seen anything yet . . .
“NOOOOO! It’s not COMING!!!!! I just KNOW it! IT’S . . . . NOT . . . . COMING!!!!!!”
It’s yet another morning of NEGATIVE EIGHTEEN and we’ve already had school canceled twice this week. I can’t take another day!
“Yes it is Mom! The bus is coming. Mr. Shaw didn’t call.”
Mr. Shaw would be the district superintendent who calls in the event of school closings.
“That’s because he’s FROZEN DEAD in his office! I’m telling you, that bus is NOT coming and we’re going to DIE out here in this wilderness! I haven’t even SEEN a deer! They’ve left the state! I just know it!”
Now he’s laughing hard so I keep going, spurred on.
I pound my head on the steering wheel so hard I make the horn honk, startling the horses—which is a good thing because at least we now know THEY are not frozen to death.
Then, my stiff-necked self turns and shouts . . .
“Hark! I see a great light in the north! It’s twinkling! No . . . wait . . . I see THREE great lights! Yonder star is gaining on us!” Suddenly, the orange Twinkie-shaped vehicle comes into view.
“You were right, Son! My faith had frozen! I once was blind but now I see! Orange Twinkie has come to save you from this world of coffee-stained robe, pink slippers, and hairy legs! Go forth and be fruitful!”
He grabs his 75 pound backpack and hurls himself out of the front seat laughing hard.
I scream those baby Toyota tires all the way back up the drive, feeling all warm and fuzzy on the inside because laughter is good for the soul and I just know Jesus has a wicked sense of humor. Well, maybe not wicked. So He and I—we go into the house and I thank Him for heat that warms body and laughter that warms soul.
Hope this warmed yours.
Tune in tomorrow for the next installment of Johnson insanity called Heat Waves in Sheets.
(I know what you’re thinking!)