Frostbite Memories

Today the sun was shining, the ocean was royal blue and the wind was bitter cold. I had the dog on a choke chain since I couldn’t squeeze the prong collar back together (I’d taken it apart in the wrong place).  I headed down my street past a tree- trimmer truck that has just pulled up, and then over to the beach two blocks away.

Pepper stopped to smell every little bit of pee left by other dogs. I couldn’t really stop her without the prong collar.  I was warm with my four shirts/sweaters, my hat, and my gloves.  A local woman about my age passed me by in just a sweatshirt. When she got to the beach, she put the hood up.

I took the boardwalk along the ocean and had to literally hold onto my hat because of the wind. Groups of tourists passed me by, shivering in their inappropriate clothing. I was coming up on four tourists in sensible stocking caps, taking photos of one another with the ocean in the background.

I should offer to take their photo. No, Pepper is pulling me too much and my hat will blow off my head.

Please don’t ask me, please don’t ask me.

We exchanged greetings.  They didn’t ask and I didn’t offer. By now my lower ears were stinging, and my fingers were cold.

I dragged myself up the hill to my street. Pepper smelled every bush and tree along the way.

“C’mon, Pepper, I ‘m cold.”

As I waited for her to sniff everything, I flashed back to being 18 years old on my college winter break in Iowa. My friends and I were meeting to play in the snow. It was a co-ed affair with Bob, Rob, Debi, Donna, I can’t remember all of them. We picked the Merle Haye Shopping Center parking lot because there were lots of snow drifts. And do you know why? Because there was lots of wind.

It was below zero with the windchill factor. I was stubborn and insisted that we try to play in the snow. My friends kept asking me if I still wanted to. After ten minutes, we were done.

A week later I noticed the tops of my ears had white crusts on them.


I was too cool to wear a hat. My toes stung for weeks after that. How dumb was I? Another time in high school I went door to door to collect money for some charity in the winter in my penny loafers with no socks. I was too cool for socks. Everyone else in the group had fabulous snow boots. I didn’t have any. Again, frozen toes.

No wonder I’m having trouble with my right foot now that I’m a senior. I abused my body, and now I’m paying for it.

It’s a good thing Pepper took her sweet time on the walk. I was going to rake under the huge Monterey pine tree when I got back.  I had already dragged the green can to the location where I would work.

It was a windy day.

More tomorrow on how Pepper might have saved my life.

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