Winter has definitely arrived.
Pardon me for exercising my gift for stating the obvious. Short of remaining indoors with the blinds closed and your furnace's thermostat set to run constantly, there are multiple indicators that winter is definitely here — the National Weather Service using phrases such as winter storm warning and wind chill advisory, plus the sight of an ice-covered tree glistening in the sunshine, the sound of a frigid vehicle being started after sitting overnight and the appearance of people carefully shuffling along on a sidewalk that in all likelihood will retain its coat of ice until the temperature warms enough to melt it.
Again as I utilize my gift for noting the apparent, the temperatures thus far in January are significantly colder than they were in the waning days of 2021. It is hard to believe that only a couple of weeks ago the high temperatures in America's Hometown were frequently ranging from the 50s into the lower 70s.
During many of those unseasonably warm early winter days I frequently went for a walk at some point during the afternoon through a portion of the Hannibal “hood.”
On one of those outings, with a winter storm warning slated to be in effect the following day, I asked my walking partner and wife, Nancy, to speculate when we might next be able to take a leisurely walk in the “hood.” Her response was short and to the point, “Maybe March.”
Following last January's ice storm I was fortunate that I was able to stay indoors essentially all the time while working from home. That was indeed a true blessing not having to venture out on the ice since I have enough trouble remaining upright already because of the Parkinson's with which I am dealing.
This year, however, I do not have the luxury of hunkering down inside the Henley hacienda until spring since I am enrolled in a month-long, four-days-a-week physical therapy program that is designed to help people with Parkinson's.
With the physical therapy scheduled to begin on the Monday following the Saturday ice event it was apparent that some serious ice removal would need to take place if I was to safely make it from the hacienda to the vehicle that would transport me. Not all that long ago such a chore would have fallen to me, but because of the Parkinson's those days have passed. Instead on Sunday it was Nancy who could be found bundled up and heading out into the cold armed with ice melt, a shovel and a windshield scraper. Over an hour later my bride, her cheeks red from the cold, came back into the house after having de-iced our vehicle, with the assistance of our oldest son, Caleb. Nancy had also chipped away at the ice that had accumulated on the front steps of our home and on a section of the sidewalk that intersects the alley that is adjacent to the hacienda.
The game plan on the frigid Monday morning, when the temperature was in the single digits and the wind chill made it feel much colder, was for Nancy to drive our vehicle around the block and park at the section of sidewalk that she had cleared. Meanwhile, after helping me with my coat and stocking cap, Caleb was to assist me in descending the front steps, walk me down the sidewalk to the waiting vehicle and get me into it.
The plan was working as drawn up until I reached midway down the stairs when I “froze,” not because of the temperature but because of the Parkinson's, which made it impossible for a spell for me to lower my left foot from one step to the next. While it seemed much longer in the frigid conditions, it probably only took a minute or so before I could become unstuck.
As Nancy drove me out to therapy on that bitterly cold morning it occurred to me that it was indeed an appropriate time to freeze.