Born in a Blizzard

I was born in a November snowstorm in the middle of the 1950s. I am a child of the snow.

My best novel, Snow Babies, is based on a pair of week-long blizzards, one from childhood, and the other from when I was in high school. I endured both and learned that survival often depends on adaptability and a willingness to accept help from a close-knit community.

I have never had an easy relationship with cold and snow. I developed osteoarthritis at the age of eighteen. Iowa winters were hard on me from that point on. One of the key reasons my teaching career took place in Texas, not Iowa, was the fact that I was able to free myself from the crippling winter cold. Milder winters in Texas helped me a lot. I did, however, get lucky in the February Freeze of 2021. Our power company was not one of those whose natural-gas supplies froze. So, we never lost power, and our pitiful little space heaters kept us from freezing to death and becoming snow babies ourselves. Too many people died needlessly by freezing simply because Texas didn’t bother to prepare for the worst of winter. I could easily have left this life in a blizzard just as I came into it.

I have been particularly up against it the last couple of days. Temperatures in the 30s and 40s have frozen my knees and lower back to a state of stiffness that nearly makes me bedridden. Even my ribcage is aching every time I breathe. Ah, the joys of arthritic living. It is still possible that one day soon I will fall to the blinding white and be able to move no more. There is a symmetry to going out the same way you came in. But knowing me, I will probably die of heat stroke. At least, then, I will have irony on my side.

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