Prickly situation

With temperatures across Drizzle Creek District, and most of the rest of Canada, heading for absolute zero (Kelvin), the Snowbirds down here at the Beach were chortling with perverse delight.
The unhappy fact there was some mornings actually a bit of ice on the puddles in northern Florida made us put on a pair of woolen socks, but couldn’t discourage the conspicuous display of beer cans, margaritas, flowered shirts, and Bermuda shorts being modelled on most patios.
With happy hour in full swing, the discussion of things most missed about an old-fashioned winter got into full swing, too.
“I really miss the ice-fishing. You know, I haven’t had frostbite or chilblains from being stuck in the slush in the middle of the lake for years now,” enthused retired NHL’er Big Clobber, who had sworn off all kinds of ice, except that in his drinks, since leaving the playing surface a few decades back.
“For me, it’s not having to put on snow tires,” whined Gordy, a retired GM worker who’s on his knees every night praying the pension will keep him in Florida every winter well into the future.
“Buy GM. We’ll save ’em one vehicle at a time,” he toasted as he gazed upon the array of Japanese and Korean vehicles crowding the parking lot.
“What about you, Squirrel? What do you miss most about winter?” queried Big Clobber as he dropped some more ice in his glass and refreshed his drink.
I had to ponder that. There were so many choices. Chopping wood? Fractious equipment? Slippery roads? Shovelling snow? Cold car seats? All had their lack of attraction, but not gruesome terror.
Then I remembered.
If you were raised in the country before the era of indoor plumbing, nothing was quite as painful as answering nature’s call to the outhouse in the dead of winter. Particularly in the middle of the night, in a howling blizzard. Remember?
I just sat on that patio and quivered before I could fully verbalize the painful memories.
Big Clobber’s wife, Donna, began to giggle, explaining that sleeping three to a bed as a kid gave repeated opportunities to inflict cruel and unusual pain on her siblings. On completion of a quick trip out the door and down the path, one simply jumped back in bed and thrust their cold butt against their bedfellows.
It usually was good for a scream and retaliation in kind some hours or days later.
Many a wiser farmer cushioned the experience with a sheepskin “donut” to provide a modicum of comfort.
You used to see them hanging behind the kitchen stove and you just grabbed it to take along on your little trip.
Toasty warm—very comfortable.
Today the sheepskin has been replaced by a piece of Styrofoam insulation (the pink variety for the fashion conscious).
With the help of your local decoy carver, you can have a real comfortable commode seat whittled out in no time flat.
Yes, the terror of the frozen butt can be abated.
But there were other hazards encountered in this activity. There is, of course, the song about the “great big mother of a bear” encountered on a midnight trip but let’s face it, most bears hibernate or run away, and are helpful by scaring the poop out of you.
Donna, however, found one midnight a porcupine solidly entrenched in the outhouse and refusing to vacate the premises. An initial scream, followed by several shouts, failed to dislodge the obstinate critter. It only rattled its raised quills and continued to gnaw away at the seat.
Beating on the walls was no more effective and only managed to shatter Big Clobber’s favourite hockey stick.
After repeated shouts from the house to cut out the racket, Donna gave into nature’s call by squatting behind the pickup. No matter, it was a dark, moonless night.
Just be thankful old porky wasn’t down the hole. It could have been a prickly experience.
Ouch!

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