still remembering the cold.
When I lived on the mission, Linda and I lived for much of the time in the little tan house back by Lorene’s house. We had various roommates from time to time but generally it was just us.
One winter it was bitterly cold. We hurried between buildings and bundled up even to run the little ways from our little house to the dorm and dining room. We would wake up in the morning during these cold days to find the cat water dish on the kitchen floor frozen. It was several feet from the door to the mudroom and the outside door.
One night in particular it was very cold when we went to bed. The house kept getting colder and colder. The oil stove in the living room/kitchen ordinarily kept the whole house cozy, but this night it was overwhelmed by the cold. We had plenty of blankets so we simply huddled a little deeper under them and covered our noses. Sometime during the early hours of the morning I must have wakened up to use the bathroom or maybe I just roused enough to be conscious.
Did you ever realize how very, very quiet the house becomes when the electricity is off? Tiny noises we never realize ordinarily-the electric clock running, the motor on the furnace (or in our case the oil stove) the light on the back of the stove that makes an insignificant ticking noise. I don’t know what all noises we have that are never noticed; but when the power is off those tiny sounds are gone and it is suddenly very quiet. This year it was so quiet it seemed I could hear the ice crackling as it froze harder on the icicles outside my window and the floor boards snapping with the cold. I sat up in my black bedroom—the glow from the radio and the clock on the stove or something in the kitchen were gone. It seemed really black.
There was nothing I could do to make the power come back on. I may have gone to check the fuse box in the mud room, but the problem was actually with something outside by the well house. (It took McCormick about two minutes to fix. The man could fix anything almost!) What I remember the most clearly was having to tell myself firmly that it wasn’t possible for electricity to freeze in the wires!
I believe it was during that same little span of time that the older school kids thought it would be funny to tell Richard to lick the frost off the iron post that supported the clothesline! Of course, you know what happened.
The next thing we knew all the kids were yelling, “Richard’s tongue is stuck to the post! Richard’s tongue is stuck to the post!” He was on the other side of the playground. One of us went running to calm him down—he was scared to death and screaming bloody murder—and the other of us ran to get some warm water to pour on the post and his tongue to un-freeze it long enough to get his tongue off. The rest of us just ran around randomly. Before any of us got to him one of the older kids had grabbed him by the shoulders and yanked him loose!
Poor li’l ole Richard! Now he had a hurting tongue with a missing patch of skin still frozen to the post! Of course, he bled like someone had chopped his tongue off. And that scared him even more. Eventually he was fixed up and the tongue stopped bleeding, but not hurting. Somebody comforted him–sister Aneza probably. I don’t remember exactly. The big kids got bawled out for telling him to do it in the first place. They claimed they had no idea it would stick so hard—yeah, we believed that, too!
Poor ornery Richard. You might know it would be him, the little ‘Pigpen’ of Rock Springs Mission. (You should remember reading about him before in my blogs. If not click on the TEACHING AND MISSION YEARS category. You’ll find him under “Richard and Victor” on March 7 )