Friday, January 29, 2021



In early 2000, I returned to school to earn a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier, VT. My roommate was a sturdy woman from Michigan. Both of us were used to the cold and often during that first winter semester we rose at 6 a.m. and booted, hatted, and mittened, we walked for 45 minutes before breakfast.
One chilly day we decided to walk into the town to fetch a couple of gallons of drinking water. We bundled up as usual and walked the half mile down the hill to the store. There were very few cars on the road and still fewer people. In fact, we hadn’t seen a single soul until we entered the store. At the clang of the bell over the door, the young clerk looked up in surprise. We grabbed two gallon jugs of water each and approached her, smiling. She rang us up and then asked, “Are you guys from the college?” We said we were and she shook her head. “Did you drive down?” she asked. We said, no, we’d walked. Why?
“I’ve heard there’s some strange folks up there,” she told us. “Who else would walk down the hill for water when it’s 40 below zero?”
Roomie and I looked at each other. 40 below? Really? A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. The hike back uphill seemed much colder than the walk down and by the time we reached our dormitory, half the water in each jug was frozen.
My outdoor thermometer this morning read 3° and the wind chill is bringing the temperature down to a balmy -13°. But, I’m running low on milk – anyone up for a walk today?