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Still Dreaming of a White Christmas

January 8, 2014


Still Dreaming of a White Christmas, but Waiting for Global Warming


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



            On this seventh of January, I am still in the midst of a dream of a White Christmas.  On Monday, I awakened to -13 degrees, accompanied by a wind chill of -39 degrees.  I thought today would be a little better, but the morning temperature was -14 degrees, with a slightly less bone-chilling wind chill than yesterday.  As has become typical this winter, I donned my four layers of clothing, two pairs of socks, one pair of fake fur-lined boots, two knitted hats, two scarves, one down coat of the full-length variety, one pair of wool gloves, and one phone in my pocket.  Mildly resembling a polar bear, I was prepared for the polar vortex; and I threw all vanity away when I first crossed the Wisconsin state line in 1991.  Next, I placed not just one, but two dog coats on Zoe so that my Leader Dog would also sport the layered look with her red coat atop her blue coat.  I positioned one of her coats slightly further back, and the other higher on her neck so that the belly Velcro straps do not overlap, but cover more of her tummy to keep her warmer.  Of course, my Zoe was extraordinarily patient during all this preparatory time.  When we were ready to confront the Arctic air mass, I pulled my hood over my doubled tams.  The snow has been so unusually textured by the extremely cold temperatures that I felt as if I were walking on the surface of another planet—but this is home.  This is winter in Wisconsin—at least, once every eighteen years. 


            Among the blessings I count is that my Black Labrador/Golden Retriever mix has always done her duties and tinkle quite quickly and on cue—in all seasons and in all types of weather.  Zoe is such a good dog!  With these extreme temperatures, I take her back inside, take off her coats, give her a treat; then, I alone return to the frozen tundra, count the steps to the spot where she did her duties.  With my heaviest glove on my left hand and a lighter-weight glove on my right hand—covered by a plastic bag—I hope that my mapping sense is correct:  I reach down to the frozen tundra and fortunately find and bag my guide dog’s two.  Truly, I am very pleased that I have been finding this prize quickly and efficiently on these mornings when the hair in my nose freezes within a minute or two. After a momentary stop at the trash, I return inside which now feels warmer to my senses. 


            The best part about being retired from teaching is that I no longer have to worry about getting to school and then getting back home on such inclement weather days.  Nevertheless, on this day—like all others—I will take Zoe outside four additional times to her relief area.  Unfortunately, for the second day in a row, we will miss our routine of long walks and errands due to the frigid conditions.  So, Zoe will have more play times, more exercise inside our townhouse today.


            I remember when I was younger and evidently wiser, I firmly proclaimed that I would never move north of Lafayette, Indiana.  Why did I land on this Frozen Tundra?  Oh, yes, a great job—a place to teach for twenty years.


            Now, to read further, you must promise to not only throw aside all vanity, but also all politics.  In the spirit of the Frozen Tundra, please sing along to the tune of “Brother John” (“Frere Jacques” in French or “Martinillo” in Spanish) the following lyrics.  Remember to warm up your voice first!


Global warming, global warming—

where are you, where are you?

Hiding with that Al Gore!  Hiding with that Al Gore!

Shame on you!  Shame on you!


            After singing a few rounds of the above, you should be ready for a mug of hot Wassail.  (Please refer to my blog post of December 4, 2013, for a delicious Wassail recipe.)


Stay well and warm!

Happy January!  Merry End of the Polar Vortex!

Alice and Zoe


January 7, 2014, Tuesday evening



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  1. I just thought of something. I wonder if guide dogs could be trained to show their owners where they pooped so it could be picked up more easily. This was a good post and an interesting song. Please keep them coming.

  2. Brrrr! I am very wimpy now and do not miss the nose hair freeze. Did you know that our friends in Clinton have not had mail service for several days? You and Zoe are truly hearty northeners. Stay warm and safe!

    • Carole–Thanks for all your comments! No, I did not know about the lack of mail service in Clinton. I do not remember this situation happening previously. Nice to receive the Indiana news via the Florida grapevine! Take care in “Alligator Country”! AZ

  3. Oops–“northerners!”

  4. Paula Lumb permalink

    Alice, having just come through the longest cold spell we’ve had in Maine since we returned in 2006, I could really relate to your post…with a frequent smile, chuckle and outright laughter! Loved the new words to the old song, as well. May we not experience any more weather as cold as we’ve just survived. May your number of layers lessen, and may you and Zoe return to your usual routine, and soon. Here’s to an early Spring! Keep on writing! Enjoy your perspective on life, as always.

    • Paula–Thanks so much for your comments. Yes, we certainly are hoping for an early spring! Take care–Alice

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