They cleaned up the beach at Chain O' Lakes State Park, all ready for the big holiday weekend ...

And now the beach is gone.

And more rain is expected tonight.

Be very careful driving--there was lowland flooding last night, and there's going to be more tonight across local roads, so slow way down, watch out, and don't go into standing water. Remember this rule: Stalling out your car is no fun, and drowning is even less fun. I've heard.

SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
Weathering Indiana Festivals

In one of my books I included a photo of the Onion Days Festival, in Wolf Lake, Indiana. Never mind that it’s called Onion Days—that’s another story—but the photo was taken in the early 1900s, over a century ago.

Hey, I wrote the book; I never said I took the picture.

There are also photos in Albion of what would one day become the Chain O’ Lakes Festival. Those pictures were taken some fifty or sixty years before there was a Chain O’ Lakes State Park … so if the street fair had been called that at the time it would be some pretty amazing precognition.

While researching local history I was shown many photos of fairs, parades, and other gatherings from back a century or so: A late 1800s fair in downtown Kendallville, a 1914 wedding in the middle of Albion’s main intersection … to this day we’re still doing a lot of those same outdoor gatherings. (I assume they shut down traffic for that wedding, but maybe they had to use a team of wild horses to drag the groom in.) )

 The Pokagon State Park Saddle Barn opened for business the first weekend of April, and Emily's first day back was that Sunday. The temperature was in the thirties when she got to work, but warmed up to close to sixty by the end of the day. (Her two days this weekend have been in much nicer weather.)

It was her first chance in months to see the horses, and they were glad to see her!

I don't think they cared so much about me one way or another, but apparently they're shedding, so they were happy enough when I scratched some necks.

Meanwhile, confession: It was the first time since our car accident in September that I walked more than a mile at a time. I made about 2.6 miles, mostly on the bike trail, which is easy going. But I did hit a trail along the way and even went off-trail a little--while I still could, before the foliage fills out and blocks cross country travel. My only complications were a little ankle pain and a sore back.

Not that the trails themselves didn't have complications:

Over the winter it was windier than election season. Emily says there were a couple of small trees across the horse trail, although they didn't present a serious problem. This one was high enough that it would have held them up. I vaulted it, which was a remarkably dumb thing for someone in my shape to do in the middle of nowhere.

There was one across the bike trail, too. I'd imagine the park employees will have everything cleaned up in short order--we could see a lot of places where fallen trees had already been cut up and moved.

 

No idea who the gentleman in the distance is; I didn't notice he was there until after I took the picture. I wonder if he said cheese? The good news is, people are already out and about, enjoying weather that, if not great, is at least better. The bad news is, my allergies are already acting up.

But that's okay, because I love green ... and the green is coming along:

 

 

SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK

(Note: This was originally written on February 7th and then misplaced, which isn’t the first time. It was the beginning of what was overall a nice February—for Indiana. You all know how things changed in March.)

Ah, spring.

Or, possibly, &$@# spring!

That’s the way it is, with springtime in Indiana. It’s feast or famine, a saying that goes well for farmers wondering if they’ll be able to get into their fields early, or ever.

I was reminded of spring just a few days after that stupid groundhog predicted six more weeks of winter, a prediction that’s essentially meaningless in Indiana. There are always six more weeks of winter—we just don’t know when. It could start next week. It could start next month. (Note: It did.) If you’re having a mild winter, like we had this year, a backlash is almost guaranteed. I’m worried about whether spring is going to be full of terms like “polar vortex”, “late winter snowstorm”, and “Is that groundhog still alive? Get my gun”.

On this particular day my wife and I got out of the car while shopping and simultaneously cocked our heads, which come to think of it probably looked pretty funny.

“Is that a bird?” I asked.

“That is a bird.”

“But that’s not a bird we usually hear in February.”

“No, it’s a spring bird.”

It was indeed a spring bird, one that was soon to be very, very unpleasantly surprised. On that particular day, the outdoor temperature hit the mid-forties. Two nights before it dipped into the teens. Two days later it hit sixty and we had thunderstorms, followed a few days after that by snow.

A typical March in Indiana, the only strange thing being that we heard the bird in early February. As you read this is should now be March, which means (if you live in the Midwest) you’re dressing in layers to combat both frostbite and heat stroke, possibly on the same day. But for February, that weather was actually pretty good.

February is usually easy to forecast. You have two choices: It’s cold and it’s going to snow, or it’s not going to snow but even colder. (Note: I said usually.) But spring—spring is different. Here’s a typical Midwest meteorologist in, say, mid-March:

“Looks like a blizzard headed our way, folks—oh, wait. The radar just updated, and the blizzard has been sucked up by a tornado! I think we’re going to see some serious snow drifts.”

We have something called March Madness, which most people think is about basketball playoffs. But in Indiana, March Madness translates to ice season: that time of the year when sleet and freezing rain fall as often as snow.

“Aren’t those icicles on the electric lines pretty—oh, the power’s out again.”

Occasionally we’ll have a dry spring, and instead of frozen precipitation you can see columns of smoke in every direction, often accompanied by sirens. This is called grass fire season, and generally comes just after March Madness. People realize they can finally walk outside without fifty pounds of outer clothing, and their first thought turns to the mess their lawns have become over winter.

“What shall we do with all these branches, leaves, weeds, and trash? Oh, I know—we’ll burn them! The ground is still wet; what could possibly go wrong?”

Pro tip: All that dead plant life around your fire is plenty dry, fella. The ground being wet simply means fire trucks can’t go off road to extinguish that wildland fire you just started. And then firefighters end up out there, ironically, trying to beat the heat with their own fifty pounds of outer clothing.

But it’s spring, so who knows? I’ve helped fight a few grass fires that I had to walk around snow drifts to reach. I’ve gone out on tornado watches in March. (Terrible idea, by the way—the basement’s way calmer.) I’ve shoveled snow in May. And all the while those poor, confused birds are flying around up there, trying to figure out whether they should be heading north or south.

They’d better decide fast, because if they head west they’ll run into a blizzard, and if they fly for the East Coast they’ll run into an even bigger blizzard.

So yeah, I’m worried about that bird. What is he living on, anyway? If he pecks the frozen ground for worms he’ll break his beak. The first bugs don’t come out until … well, about now, if you include mosquitoes.

In fact, it’s not uncommon in Indiana for the big piles of plowed snow to still be melting off in July. Sometimes, on the first really warm days, you can see kids skiing down snow mountains at Wal-Mart, then surfing on across the parking lot.

It’s why I often call Indiana the greatest place in the world, except during winter. Luckily, surviving winter is like surviving pain: Once it’s over, you tend to forget how bad it is. By the end of May you can put your snow shovel away (you might want to keep the gloves and wool hat out, just in case), and enjoy the outdoors, until it gets hot.

Maybe the hot is why we’re not all living in Florida.

 

 

 

 

 

At work the other night we took 63 calls, almost all of them storm related, in a five hour period. It's not unheard of for us to take only a dozen calls all of third shift this time of year, assuming no winter weather comes in and there aren't a lot of traffic stops. (I work in an emergency communications center.)

I'm still so stressed that every muscle in my body is tightened up. I feel like if someone sneaked up behind me right now I'd get a concussion hitting the ceiling. But I've learned a few things I'd like to pass on to you:

If a stop light goes dark due to storm damage, the law says you're supposed to treat it as a four way stop. I learned this in driver's ed, but apparently they don't teach that anymore. So my advice to you is that if the traffic light is out you should stop at the intersection and, if you see anyone coming the other way, turn around and take the back roads. Yeah, if the other guy hits you after you stopped and proceeded it'll be his fault, but you'll still be hit.

If you're got a trampoline, anchor it down. Apparently they make great sails until they get to a road, then they make great roadblocks.

If you see a utility line on the ground and can 't tell if it's an electric line, a TV cable, or a phone line ... it's an electric line.

Speaking of roadblocks, if a huge storm goes through at night and you have to drive somewhere in the morning, treat every hill or curve as if it's the wrapping of a huge present waiting just out of sight. That present may be a utility pole, or a tree, or a trampoline, inviting you to party with your insurance agent. Not the greatest comparison ever, but still.

Straight line winds aren't nearly as sexy as tornadoes, but they can still rock your world.

Being in a building hit by lightning is very exciting.

Sometimes exciting is not good.

If you're a 911 dispatcher, don't drink. You might never stop.
 Ah, April in Indiana. First there's all the property damage from wind, of course. The next day we drive through a sleet squall ... then that night we have what I can only describe as a snowstorm. Then the next day we walk the dog around town while it's 55 degrees--at midnight--and my allergies are acting up. When we get up the next morning it's in the 30s, and our sinuses are exploding. 
 
Here's Emily's video and my photos of the snowstorm, exactly 24 hours before we took the 55 degree walk:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5H8n7MxhUs
 

 

 

 

When I woke up, I could feel in my sinuses that the weather was changing—again. Not exactly a superpower. Then I went outside, skidded across the porch, pried open the car door, got the car started (barely), and chipped ice off the mirrors while it warmed up and charged the battery.

Ah, winter.

But what I hadn’t expected was the way I felt after being outside for half an hour. Although overall I haven’t started feeling better from the sinus surgery yet (12 weeks to a year), I have been able to breathe through my nose much better. I think that actually works against me in weather like this.

In short, I’m not going out again until time to head to work in the snow tonight. But feeling under the weather (heh) is something we all go through. It doesn’t keep me from today’s task, which is to go through our vast collection of photos to pick out pictures for the Indiana history humor book. It’s bicentennial year—time’s a-wasting.

 

 

ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Winter hatred)
( Dec. 28th, 2015 06:20 pm)

 

I missed all the fun and exciting ice/wind storm stuff today due to a little post-operative problem. No, as predictable as it would be, I do not have another sinus infection.

 

I have a SUPER sinus infection. The doc gave me two shots of kryptonite today, and if that doesn’t work, he’s sending in Batman.

 

Boy, I wish I was kidding about the shots. I can barely sit down.

 

But at least we have power, for now, and a lot of people around here don’t. Just a quick reminder, so you don’t end up with the kind of pain I’m in: Be very cautious of fire, whether candles to light your home, or auxiliary heating like kerosene. Fire danger is high, and with open flames or generators, there’s a carbon monoxide hazard. Remember that just because downed power lines are quiet doesn’t mean they’re not live, and just because you can’t see ice doesn’t mean you aren’t about to look like Charlie Brown kicking the football. Be careful.

 

 

We left Pokagon State Park at about 12:30 this afternoon, figuring to get ahead of a vicious looking black cloud. We failed. On I-69 it got nighttime dark, with an edge of light on the horizon that made things look a little surreal; that was when I looked to my left and said something that I won’t repeat here, but won’t win me any awards for great sayings.

 

I wouldn’t recommend pulling over along an interstate, but I also wouldn’t recommend calling 911 while driving 70 mph in wind gusts and a downburst. While we were stopped we saw at least three or four funnel clouds, or possibly one or two that would come down, spin around for awhile, then lift back up only to emerge again. We had a scare when it looked like a touchdown directly ahead of us along an overpass, during which I cussed in the 911 dispatcher’s ear, but I think it was a front gust that blew dust and rain over the top of the bridge. On the way home we caught a little hail, but by the time we got to Kendallville it was just heavy rain.

 Emily said she’d never go storm chasing with me … but she said nothing about already being in the car when the storm chased us.

 http://markrhunter.blogspot.com/2015/07/the-things-i-go-through-for-photo.html
 

I’ve had a few outdoor book signings, which always brought the obvious worry-the weather would stink. It’s related to the garage sale rule: If you hold a garage sale, the weather will be horrible for a garage sale.

(I just made that rule up, but I’m not the only one who’s noticed.)

For my daughter’s yard sale, the strangest thing is happening: If the weather holds, it will be perfect weather. For Thursday through Saturday mostly sunny, temperatures high sixties to low seventies. (This is assuming we survive the next couple of frigid days, of course. There’s no time of the year when I like getting this close to a record low.)

If I sell some of my new books and some used books, I’ll be happy. If I don’t lose my whole stock to a downpour, I’ll be pleasantly shocked … as opposed to the way I’m usually shocked.

 

http://www.4countymall.com/mark-hunter---slightly-off-the-mark/bites-and-sniffles-and-other-joys-of-spring

 

Spring makes me giddy, dizzy, my heart skips—or possibly, it’s my allergies.

 

There’s no such thing as the perfect time of the year. Having said that, a bad day in summer is better than a good day in winter, and if you don’t believe me, ask a meteorologist. Do you know that of all assaults on forecasters, 95% happen during winter? This year, Boston weathermen had to go into the witness protection program.

 

The other 5% happen during heat waves, which proves my earlier point.

 

In spring, exhausted sprouts poke through the slush, and hungry deer stop shivering for the first time since November. Those who weren’t hit by cars, I mean. People love flowers, and deer—that aren’t in their driving path. People don’t love mosquitos, but they also come out every spring. Deer don’t love mosquitos. Nobody loves mosquitos. Other mosquitos, I suppose.

 

Yet there they are, and I’d rather be bitten by fifty mosquitos than experience the definition of “wind chill factor”. It’s a comparative thing, but it’s not apples and oranges: It’s liver and Brussels sprouts. I’d rather eat fifty Brussels sprouts than one piece of liver, but that doesn’t mean I like them.

 

During a trip to Missouri, I discovered after about a dozen bites that I was allergic to their mosquitos, which are just like ours but talk like Mark Twain. As I lay there suffering, I thought: “Hey … I’m not cold!” Granted, I was running a 101 degree fever at the time, but still.

 

I got tested a few years ago, and found out I was allergic to every substance humans can be allergic to. (Except foods. I have no explanation.) That would seem to make summer a bad thing, because that’s when the allergens come out.  Coming into contact with many things causes a severe reaction: Bugs, mold, dust, bikini ladies …

 

Well, my wife said I’d suffer if I came into contact with bikini ladies, so that pretty much qualifies as an allergy.

 

 

 

Pardon the cell phone quality, but I was surprised this morning to find myself in the middle of a snow squall.

 

First it snowed, then it snowed so hard it started drifting across the pavement, then it sleeted ... then it snowed again. Here my daughter Charis models the new spring fashions.

 

 

Yesterday I mowed the lawn; today I'm saying "I told you so" to anyone who made fun of me because my snow shovels are still on the front porch.  
I posted this on Instagram just after it happened. It's the Albion Fire Department parking lot, and if you look closely you realize the white across the lot is actually drifts of snow, being pushed by the wind.

 

I was worried the weather would be cool at Charis' yard sale this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Now I'm worried she's going to have to shovel a path to get there.

 

The Albion Fire Department is lengthening the time the town’s tornado sirens will sound during bimonthly tests, to make it more like what people will hear in case of a real tornado warning.

 

The tests will still take place at about 6 p.m., on the second and fourth Mondays of every month (except winter). However, previously the sirens were turned on just long enough to make sure they work, and then shut back down. In the case of a real tornado, the sirens sound a steady wail for three minutes.

 

During testing, the sirens will now sound at high pitch for the full three minutes, so residents will get a feel for what they’ll hear if a tornado warning is actually issued. The town’s newer sirens have additional capabilities for alert tones in case of other emergencies, and officials are working on plans to use them for situations other than severe weather.

 

Two new large sirens were recently put into service after a yearlong fundraising project. Albion is currently covered by five sirens, while another is situated at nearby Skinner Lake. The sirens will be sounded in case of a tornado warning, which means a tornado or funnel cloud has been sighted by weather spotters or radar.

 

Albion's two newest sirens were dedicated earlier this year. This one was placed by the town municipal building, near the east side of town. (Photo by Mark R Hunter, courtesy Albion FD)

 

ozma914: (ozma914)
( Apr. 2nd, 2015 03:55 pm)

 

Hopefully today’s rain will cut down on ground cover fires for awhile, and hopefully without severe storms. And hopefully without an earthquake, like Missouri just had. Worst case scenario: an earthquake during a forest fire, with a funnel cloud touching down to make a fire tornado. The scary part is that it could happen.

 

 But remember, folks: Just because the ground is still wet doesn’t mean we can’t have ground cover fires. Dead foliage from over the winter dries out quickly, and until things green up later in the spring it can ignite easily—sometimes within hours of a rain. I’ve seen flames burn through a swamp, right over standing water.

 

In fact, fires this time of year can be even worse, because brush, grass, and fields still burn, but the ground can be too wet for four wheel drive brush trucks to reach the flames. Firefighters have to walk to the fire with hand tools, or wait for the flames to reach their positions close to the road. Waiting means the fire gets bigger, and there’s a chance it might reach and damage buildings or vehicles.

 

So don’t burn in windy conditions, have a cleared area around whatever you’re burning, and watch the fire until it’s completely out. If in doubt, don't do it.

Not being in a burning building doesn't make it safe: Firefighters have suffered smoke inhalation, heat exhaustion, falls, burns, and being hit by vehicles at grass and field fires.

 


This photo is from a fire that endangered buildings on March 18th, near Long Lake Road and CR 175 N.

 

 

SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK

 

 

I love January! Said no one, ever.

 

Okay, some people actually do love winter, which just goes to show you: Northern Indiana needs better mental health screening. I used to take part in winter activities, but I was young then, and young people just haven’t learned that being miserable isn’t an adventure.

 

When I was a kid, I loved sledding, snowball fights, and not having to pay the utility bills. Well, I liked them … I never did warm up all that much to winter. Then, one day when I was about fourteen, I came in from building a snow block fort to discover my hands and toes had themselves become snow blocks. My cheeks had taken on a white, Frosty-like sheen.

 

My face cheeks. Get your mind out of my insulated underwear.

 

Thawing out involved a process not unlike being stabbed with a thousand white-hot pins and needles, and from that time on I couldn’t stay in cold weather for long before the affected parts started to feel like they’d been shotgunned full of rock salt. It took all the fun out of it.

 

Today, my favorite wintertime activities involve a book and a cup of hot chocolate. So January does have an advantage: I can catch up on my reading. But that doesn’t really make up for the gas bill.

 

 

Last year, here in Indiana, we had a return to real Indiana winters. You know, the kind of stuff that leads on The Weather Channel. The kind of weather only snow plow drivers and ice fisherman like, and see above about mental health. For many previous years, our weather has largely just been miserable, instead of awful. But now we’ve returned to the kind of weather that led to the sale of T-shirts proclaiming “I survived the Blizzard of ‘78” … and if you had one of those shirts, you know “survived” wasn’t an exaggeration. )

 

 

SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK

 

 

            This time of year, as leaves turn to glorious multicolor, steamy hot days of summer vanish, and autumn decorations go up, I can often be found … crying.

 

            But it seems everyone else can be found at harvest festivals.

 

            Harvest fests, as you might imagine, are annual celebrations that take place around the time of the harvest. Makes sense. This would be the harvest of food crops, you understand, not the biannual politician harvest that’s often rotten, anyway.

 

            Ancient people celebrated the harvest every year because they didn’t like starvation. That was pretty much it. Why else celebrate fall? Did the hunter/gatherers look at each other and say, “Oh, look! The sun is disappearing—we might freeze to death again this year. Let’s party!”

 

            They did not.

 

            But possibly the only thing worse than freezing to death is freezing to death while hungry. They were happy to wrest a few grains away from the bugs and birds, so they could fill the storehouses with boxes of Pre-Ricestoric Crispies and Frosted By Next Month Flakes.

 

            “Good news, honey—we won’t have to eat the kids this year.”

 

            “Oh, good. Now, about that vacation trip across the land bridge …”

 

           

My home town has a harvest fest in mid-September, and at first glance that doesn’t seem to make sense. Remember, Thanksgiving was originally about being thankful for the harvest, and that’s in November. Unless you’re in Canada, in which case it’s earlier and more polite. (“Do you mind terribly if we take your land and give you smallpox? Thank you so much.”) )

 

            At second glance, harvest festivals in Europe often took place near the Harvest Moon, which is indeed near the autumn equinox, which this year is September 22nd. I know, because for me it’s a day of mourning. It marks that time of year when we get those aforementioned beautiful colors, apple cider, hay rides, cursing over faulty thirty year old home heating systems, covering your entire home with plastic, sobbing into your heating bills …

 

            Where was I?

 

            So, it’s not unusual at all for harvest fests to come at the same time as Albion’s, which this year is September 20th and 21st.  I’m okay with that, because there’s at least a chance that the weather will still be warm enough to actually want to go outside to a harvest fest. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, you know you’re going to be having your holiday indoors, and that you should have your snow boots ready, just in case.

 

            You know what’s a crazy holiday? Halloween.

 

            “Hey, there’s frost on the pumpkin—literally! Let’s dress up in costumes that we’ll have to hide under winter coats, then go running around the neighborhood until we’re so cold we have to pour the hot chocolate over our hands so we can thaw them enough to open the candy!”

 

            Talk about a transition period. I still don’t understand why these controversial sexy adult Halloween costumes ever got popular outside of southern California. “Ooh, your pasty-white skin and uncontrollable shivering are so hot! I mean, not literally hot …”

 

            The local harvest fests generally come before that, but after the August days when you can’t walk in the streets because your shoes melt. They also give us a chance to spend a weekend ignoring that storm of hot wind-blown bull scat, otherwise known as election season. But there’s one problem I always had with September harvests fests:

 

            Did anyone ask the harvesters?

 

            Places like England, where harvest festivals date back to pagan times, have shorter growing seasons, so maybe the harvest was over by then. But here in Indiana, there are still a lot of crops in the field at that point. I mean, Albion’s Harvest Fest has a corn maze. This requires corn.

 

            Corn crops have to stay up for some time, to provide cover for deer as they lie in wait to jump out in front of innocent cars. Now, I’ve never been a farmer,  because I don’t like to work hard. And I’ll grant you, there’s no time of the year when there’s no work for farmers to do. But if we’re going to celebrate a harvest, shouldn’t there be a harvest, first?

 

            Maybe this is a break time, giving them a chance to celebrate what they already picked, and rest up for the harvesting to come. Maybe the corn isn’t ready, and they’ve already finished picking from the apple, cake, and lunchbox trees.

 

            What? I told you I’m not a farmer. Maybe the lunchboxes grow underground.

 

A wagon ride tour of Albion at the harvest fest in, yes, Albion.

 

My daughter, son-in-law, and grand-twins a few years ago at the Albion Harvest Fest ... the kids are about twice this age, now.

 

SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
 
 
            I had a chance to watch my grandkids playing in Albion’s splash pad the other day, and it took me back to my childhood: Jumping in the water, splashing around, screaming …
 
            Freezing.
 
            A splash pad is a really cool place for kids, because you get the splash part, but not the worries of going into water too deep. Plus, it’s clean water. There’s no such thing as a play area where you absolutely can’t get hurt at all (and what a boring place that would be), but that beats the heck out of the “good” old days.
 
            When I was a kid, there were several places you could go swimming, if they were within biking range, or you could talk an older person with a car into taking you there. Some of them were beaches, and occasionally we’d even find a lifeguard at one.
 
            We avoided those places. The lifeguards were too much like … adults. No roughhousing, no throwing stuff at each other—it never occurred to us that they could save our lives.
 
            No, we’d go to the places where the beaches consisted of gravel, or to good old fashioned swimming holes. I’m not sure what the difference is. I can tell you that lakes beat ponds, if you were at all disturbed by stuff squeezing between your toes. Clean water? Never entered our minds.
 
            One of our favorite places to go was the Skinner Lake beach, and it’s a perfect example of the revelation I had while I sat there, safely out of the water, watching the grandkids:
 
            When I was their age we’d get out of the car at Skinner Lake, and it would take me five minutes to cross a gravel driveway. I’m one of those kids who always wore shoes, and now I was barefoot, on my way to the water. It never occurred to me to take shoes with me, or wear what, in those days, we used to call thongs. Believe me, the thongs of forty years ago protected an entirely different area than the thongs of today do.
 
            Then I’d work my way down the beach, and put one toe into the water. The water was freezing. It was always freezing, no matter where we went. Heated swimming? Unheard of.
 
            My brother, along with whoever else my parents made drag me along, would dive right into the water, which was of a temperature about the same as what Jack and Rose dropped into during Titanic. After a while, I’d recover from the shock and dip a foot in.
 
            Then a toe of the other foot. Goose bumps popped up all over my body, including inside my ears. Every hair stood on end. By the time the water reached my knees, I’d be shivering uncontrollably. The others would be tossing a Frisbee back and forth, or splashing around in inner tubes.
 
            The water would reach my swim trunks, seeming momentarily less cold until it reached the top and touched my bare abdomen. My belly would suck in against my spine.
 
            Eventually, about the time the sun reached the top of the trees, I’d get just comfortable enough in the water—by which I mean, still freezing but now up to my neck—that I’d start splashing around a little.
 
            At this point the others would call from where they were drying off on the beach, to tell me it was time to come home.
 
            This was called having fun.
 
            It was many, many years before I fully understood that I just got colder than other people did. Others wear shorts, I wear pants. Others wear t-shirts, I pull on a sweater. Others enjoy autumn, I’m digging out long underwear and a winter coat. Others love winter, I … don’t.
 
            I should have just stayed on the beach.
 
            To this day, I love being on big bodies of water—lakes, rivers. By that I mean on, as in a boat, or a raft. It took me all these years to figure out that, as much as we used to beg adults to take us swimming, I rarely liked it much (unless we were there at least a few hours, by which time I was numb enough to have fun). The first time I remember completely enjoying myself from the start (outside of discovering heated swimming pools) is when my wife and I went into a river in southeast Missouri, where the water was almost bathtub-like, late in their hot summer.
 
            As much as I loved watching the kids running around in the splash pad, I wouldn’t want to join them. Well, not until the temperature touches 90, at least … let’s not get too silly about this whole cold water hatred thing. Goose bumps will never beat heat stroke for unwanted side effects.
.

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