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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.
I know that "Women are from Venus and Men are from Mars," but nowhere is it more obvious than in their reaction to that ominous season called WINTER! This time of year is appropriately called "Old Man Winter."

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...

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

My husband must not be of a typical man. He hates anything colder than 70 degrees. He grew up in up-state New York, and shoveled snow for a living as a kid, but he can't stand the cold now. My dad is the same way. But every other man I know would rather be outside during the winter than the summer. I, myself, seem to handle cold better than hot. I can bundle up w/ more layers...but it's not legal to take enough off.

But I guess my boys will be the next generation of cold-loving men. They're already showing signs of it.

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Tue, Jan 22, 2008, at 7:30 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Ah, actually, I think that's a good thing, mrsdolphin. If the men worry about the winter, then the women don't have to! Count yourself fortunate to have raised resilient sons!

MD, I know it is a slip-up because of a temporary brain freeze, but it is COLDEST when it is sunny -- because there is no cloud cover to retain what heat the Earth gives off. The coldest day while I was in Fairbanks was a bright clear day of about 65 below, and I remember it well because I had to shovel snow off the roof. There may be something to your theory -- why else would I wait until THAT day to climb up on the roof and shovel snow?

-- Posted by FJGuy on Tue, Jan 22, 2008, at 8:12 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Well, yes - If the day is CLOUDY, it's warmer -- but I can tell by the brilliance of the sun in that photo (plus the fact that I don't believe we're wearing GLOVES) that it's not the dead of December or January. The sun is too BRIGHT for that time of year....in my memory, at least. AND we have nothing on our heads or over our ears! Couldn't be December.

If you'll remember, December 21 was the shortest day of the year. I doubt that we'd have had time to run out and get a photo taken in the hour of light we had during that time!

I doubt you were shoveling snow off your roof around December 21.

You'll notice that we never had to shovel that roof! We just had to watch out for avalanches!

Not good goat country!

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Jan 22, 2008, at 8:55 PM

Oh, MD, I wasn't complaining a/b them being cold-loving men, trust me. They get older, and we ever get an actual snow like we did a few years back, and I can sit inside and enjoy the heat! Since my husband drives a truck, it's nice to have my two little men here to help w/ stuff like that. And they love to help (for now anyway :-). But honestly, I would rather do the winter stuff that needs done. I don't do so well in the heat.

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Tue, Jan 22, 2008, at 11:42 PM

How cute! My two sons have always been good with cold weather, too. I have some very happy memories of all the kids getting into their Carhartts and going out to work & play in the snow!

For years, we all went up on the hill out back and cut a cedar tree for Christmas. My husband walked through the snow, chainsaw in one hand, my daughter's little hand in the other. All the dogs followed along, so happy to be with us.

Good memories!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Jan 23, 2008, at 7:07 AM

I lived in Phoenix for a few years, and I remember thinking, "Just get me back to Missouri and I will never complain about winter again!" Seems odd to think that because Phoenix had a beautiful winter, but ohmygahhhhhd, the summers.

I think the only problem about Missouri and winter is that we don't get out and enjoy our winters like they do in Colorado, Michigan, etc. We hibernate. Like me. Today. Not going outside. No.

-- Posted by lovebooks on Wed, Jan 23, 2008, at 9:48 AM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Actually, we didn't really get out and "enjoy" the winters much in Alaska, either. We never did learn to ski, and our experience with a snowmobile was something less than successful - so we spent the winters inside, too. That's no good. If you live in a winter wonderland, you need to take advantage of it. We never did truly acclimate ourselves to the Northland.

Being from the far South, I have trouble with Missouri winters. Never in my life have I considered moving to Alaska. In fact, I once swore that I'd never move further north than Birmingham. Yeah, I know. Swearing was a mistake. In less than a year I was in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Those winters weren't bad although the people up on Lookout Mountain and Signal Mountain couldn't get down the mountain a few days a year.

On the other hand, I hate sand in my swimsuit, so Florida is out. All things considered, I'm right where I need to be.

-- Posted by Ducky on Wed, Jan 23, 2008, at 12:52 PM

So, let's see....what is there to do outside in a Missouri winter?


I'm stumped!

My dogs are staring in the window at me right now, so I guess I'd better go feed goats, dogs, cats, birds....

The glamorous ski resorts will have to wait until tomorrow.

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Jan 23, 2008, at 4:29 PM

I don't care if I ever see another flake of snow, artificial or real for the rest of my life.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Wed, Jan 23, 2008, at 7:43 PM

MD, Are you sure your initials don't stand for Maddie Drew? Nancy would be envious of you trying to solve "The Mystery Of When The Photograph Was Taken" by resorting to the "brilliance of the sun," a lack of wearing gloves, or a cap or ear muffs, and the shortness of the day in December and January to eliminate those months.

There probably aren't too many of Advance's back alley mysteries safe from being solved by your sleuthing skills! Humm... there is the mystery of the yellow lab that still needs solving.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Sat, Jan 26, 2008, at 2:10 PM

You are so right, I.B. I know snow is necessary some places, but I don't want to see it either.

-- Posted by Ducky on Tue, Jan 29, 2008, at 12:47 PM

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Madeline DeJournett
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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 advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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