“As the days begin to lengthen, the cold begins to strengthen.”

My Dad’s saying popped into my mind this morning as the thermometer dropped way past the freezing to below zero.

It is a saying that certainly never fails to come true. In my rather long memory, January and February always produce the coldest days, and often the most snow. Richard and I lived in Interlaken, New York, while he studied at Cornell University and I taught in the elementary school. In February 1958 (or 1959), it snowed every day. School was cancelled all but four days. Those days, the buses were unable to reach the majority of the children. I had just one-third of my first graders those days.

The wind also blew and packed the snow between the banks of the state highway leading from Interlaken across the hill to Lodi on Seneca. The town broke a plow trying to get through it. A machine to chew out the stubborn bank was called in to no avail. Finally, controlled blasts of dynamite were used to loosen the blockage so plows could get


through and open the roads beyond there.

We lost so much school that New York State authorized us to make it up by increasing our school day by an hour. The snow brought me a benefit as a teacher. The wind had piled the snow to the top of my classroom windows. The children were not distracted for at least a month by activities outside.

The poem for this week is one of my favorites:

I laughed out loud
And watched
The small green balloon skimming
Across State Street
Touching, gliding, bouncing
out of place and time on a
January noon.

I watched
and strained
to follow its uncaring path
while the light gave me permission
to proceed on my defined route.

Richard E. Lake


Richard E. Lake in Albany, NY

3 thoughts on “THE BIG FREEZE

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