I was walking into the movies, this morning, and I considered how cold and damp and dark that it was. It seemed that the cold cut me to the bone. I looked around me to see the sullen and frozen faces of my fellow movie goers and I knew that…winter is colder as you get older! In fact, according to Fahrenheit temperature, I believe that the winters in Southern Illinois are somewhat warmer than when I was a boy. I remember trudging through two feet of snow and negotiating icy paths while being bundled against 0 degree temperatures. Did I mention that this was while I was hiking over a mile to school and in the afternoon…back home? Ice sickles hung from our roof, that if they fell on your head they had the potential to end your life.
My buddy, Steve, and I drove through blizzards in 1978 and 1979, and got stuck in snow drifts and basically lived in a replica of the Arctic Circle. I not only did not know the meaning of the word, quit, I did not understand the wisdom of turning around and going back home…when your life was in danger!
Not long after I was hired at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale…a blizzard struck our region. Our good friend, Faye, told us that she had heard on the radio that SIUC was closed, but that was not good enough for me. I thought as a new employee that if I failed to show up for work, in the event that Building Services was open for business, I would be fired. So, I set off and began driving through what appeared to be a snow covered field…with no sign of a road or path. I looked to my left and there were automobiles and trucks and semis…off in the ditch or encased in a herculean snow drift. I looked on my right…and it was worse than my left. Finally, I arrived at the Building Services office and proceeded to walk, slowly, to the front door and attempt entry. The door was locked and the lights were out, accept for one incandescent light bulb burning in the window. About that time, my colleague Elbert Covington, drove up and attempted entry through the locked front door…and then began to yell…Brooks and Covington are reporting for work…let us in! When Elbert and I decided that our department must be closed…Elbert said for me to return to Elkville, which is 15 miles from Building Services and then drive back to his home in DeSoto, which is 7 miles from Building Services…for the purpose of enjoying some hot chocolate. I assured my friend that if I was able to make it home…home is where I was going to stay!
My susceptibility to cold may be in conjunction with MJ and my recent visit to Miramar Beach, Florida. The temperatures fluctuated between throughout the 60’s to the low 70’s. It was very nice. As I sat on the balcony of my dear friends and family, Ira Kaye and Ron, I was reminded about how exquisite the location was. There is a picture perfect view of the ocean. The ocean has captivated me for many years. Its changing colors and appearance and beauty is indescribable. I remember, as if it were yesterday…and it almost was, the sound of MJ and Ron and Ira Kaye laughing uproariously as they played a card game that had something to do with a hand and a foot? I read, at length, and I typically read when I am in the Destin area. Life is captured, as if in a watercolor painting, and I slow down and consider where I have been and where I am going. I was reminded of the wonderful visits that we experienced with our friends, Mechem and Carson, when we visited on earlier occasions. Our sons, Aaron and Jonathon, accompanied us and the familial dynamic and bonds of collegiality were memorable.
We often take in a movie a the IMAX theatre located in Destin Commons. We did so again on our recent visit earlier this month. MJ wanted to see ‘1917’ and I am pleased that she did. The theatre is so much larger than the one that we have in Carbondale. We took seats in the back of the auditorium and it was quite a hike to the top. The flick was captivating with little dialog. It was much like watching a theater piece that had been filmed. Afterward we chose to take our dinner at the Red Brick Oven Pizza House. The pizza was good and the beer was cheap. As we were enjoying the delectable repast…it began to rain in the monsoon fashion. Luckily we had our raincoats and we exited into the deluge…and splashed the puddles dry.
I can see why many of my friends take a month or two or more…to enjoy the winter in Florida. There is a lot of wisdom in the philosophy of the Snow Birds. I think we need to do the same in the future!