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Is winter a "man thing"?Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2008, at 7:07 PM
The DeJournetts and little Missouri beagle Mitchie stand in front of their house in Fairbanks around the year 1970. This is obviously not the coldest part of the year, because the sun is shining.
Over the 65 years of my life, I've observed the opposite sex with an often critical eye, and that's my assessment. Most men are in love with all things icy, difficult, metal, and cold! Why is that? Well, I'll tell you ---- I don't know! It's a man thing. That's the only way I can explain it.
I first started this blog early Sunday morning, when the thermometer registered between 9 and 10, and my thoughts were as dark as an Alaskan winter...which is pretty darned dark! I hadn't checked on the light bulb in the pump house, and it had gone out, so my water was frozen up. As I trekked out to the pump house to replace the bulb, I thought about those years we spent in the Far North, and I wondered at the audacity with which we entered that phase of our lives...
My husband was in his element in cold weather, and I guess that's the reason why we ended up in that Great Frontier... I really think that 75% of the male population, if they were truthful, would admit that they would like to move to Alaska.
Actually, we went up not once, but twice. Each time, there was a "This is the last straw!" moment that precipitated the move. I'm not sure what the first one was, except that he didn't like the way that development was moving in the Cape area where we lived. Someone built a big, gaudy apartment complex in a pristine field not far from us, and that seemed to give him a feeling of claustrophobia, I think.
I do remember the second "last straw," as it involved the DMV office in Bloomfield. He came back from getting one or the other vehicle licenses, and he said, "We're moving back to Alaska!"
There is no doubt that the summers are magical up there. The temperature is as perfect as it's possible to be -- except for the first summer ('69) we were there, when we were appalled to see 105 degrees. That's not a good thing in a land where the sun shines all night, so the forest fires spread smoke all the way to Seattle that year. However, most summertime temps hover around 75, and the 24-hour daylight is divine!!!
Then comes September, and the party's over, folks! From then until April, it's cold and dark. Oh, boy. Still, Dale and his high school buddy Asa (Dowdy) were in 7th Heaven! Asa's wife Barb and I were somewhat less than ecstatic, but it was definitely an experience.
You have your studded snow tires put on the vehicles no later than September, of course, since Fairbanks usually has snow by the 15th. You also have a circulating heater installed under the hood, with an extension cord, which you keep in the back of the car, so you can plug it in when the temps are -30 degrees or colder. Otherwise, you aren't going anywhere. I made sure to get to school early each morning; otherwise, I wouldn't get a plug-in in the teacher's parking lot. I don't remember how many plug-in's they had, but it wasn't enough.
One day I was late and didn't get one, so I had to send a student out to the parking lot with my keys to start the car and run it for five minutes at a time. I did it for a couple of classes, but then I forgot. By the end of the day, my car had to be towed into a nearby service station and thawed out overnight. I was never late to school after that.
They say that Alaska is a great place for men and dogs, but it's not good for women or horses. I can relate to that. As difficult as the winters can be down here in Missouri, I can thank my lucky stars that I didn't get stuck up there by myself.
Of course, with the ratio of men to women, I guess the chances of being a lone woman in Alaska are pretty slim. Still, I wouldn't relish the life style that some of them live. The thought of scraping a grizzly hide in my living room is not my idea of a fun time, girls.
Like I said - Men are from Mars.....and the dark side of the moon...
From the pleasantly crisp hills of Tillman, Missouri, this is your rural goatherder, signing off...
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 573-722-5322.