News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

January 11, 2010

Sidelines: Feeling cold? Here’s a story that just might warm your feet

Despite a glowing space heater that hums near my chilly feet, I still hug my arms and rub my legs as I sit to write this story. The sub-zero temperatures this weekend have brutally reminded us all of our human frailty, of our dependence on stoves and furnaces, electricity and natural gas, on blankets and fleece and wool and warm water. I think it is not odd at all that I am preoccupied right now with a steaming cup of tea, with flannel bed sheets and crackling sycamore logs in our fireplace.

I have waited for a night just like tonight to write this tale, perhaps in the hope that it will warm my toes against the persistent draft that sneaks like a thief under a nearby door. The wind comes knifing across the fields around our place to rob our house of its warmth, to cool our floors and rattle our windows, and I resent the intrusion.

It warms me a little to remember a trip that my wife and I took this past summer. We headed to northern Indiana in the smothering heat of August, up old Indiana 31 to Shipshewana and Goshen and Nappanee and points nearby. We went to shop and to sleep late and to eat too much, a mini-vacation before we headed back to the daily grind of a school schedule. The temperatures that week ran in the low 90s, and while we expended the sweat and energy that seems to be the price to pay for moving around in a Hoosier summer, I think we’d agree that had it been even warmer, we’d gladly trade those dog days for the natural refrigeration we’re afflicted with now. It was so warm that even our car’s air conditioner could hardly keep ahead of the day’s oppressive mugginess, particularly when the sun shone through our windshield like a greenhouse pane above a bed of slightly moist petunias.

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