Sunday, February 18, 2007

Jack Frost... And Other Idle Thoughts

It is said that the eskimos have eighteen different words for snow. We may not approach that, but Iowans are no pikers when it comes to describing snow, frost, and ice. I mention this, because I was talking on the phone with my sister, who is visiting my brother down south, and she complained that it was cold down there too, and they had a crackling frost. Now I realized that is a descriptive term for frost that I'd not heard for a few years; I imagine it came from our Mother, who was a regular walking compendium of folk terminology. A crackling frost is when you get a heavy frost on bare ground, so that everything crackles when you walk on it. I knew that my sister was just complaining about the frost to irritate me, as it was 8 degrees here, with a foot of snow and ice on the ground... I did get even with her, as I asked her if she'd been keeping an eye on the stock market while she was on vacation (she hadn't). My brother talked her into selling most of her John Deere stock a few months ago at 85; it's been going straight up since the day she sold it, and last Wednesday they released their earnings report, and the stock shot up another ten dollars a share, and is now 113. I suspect it may stay a little frosty at my brother's place for several days.
This certainly has been a winter for snow and ice though; so far it has been the coldest February here in the midwest, in seventy years. The cold is finally going to break up, with temperatures next week rising to forty degrees, so hopefully we begin the slow turn to spring. When my sister mentioned crackling frost, I started thinking about Jack Frost, and realized that young'uns really probably have little appreciation of the old poem by Gabriel Setoun:

For, creeping softly underneath
The door when all the lights are out,
Jack Frost takes every breath you breathe,
And knows the things you dream about.
He paints them on the window-pane
In fairy lines with frozen steam.
And when you wake, you see again
The lovely things you saw in dream.

When I was young, our family was not exactly what you would call flush, and we three kids slept on an unheated sun porch with leaky windows, and in the winter you could see your breath in the morning. The windows would all ice up with fantastic examples of Jack Frost's handiwork. With modern double paned windows, children no longer have the delight of pressing their nose or fingers to the windows to see little spots of ice crystals melt (personally I would have traded the experience for a little more heat in the room). Posted by Picasa

Gosh, it never seems to work out when you take money advice from family...
Isn't that the truth... my brother (the advisor) used to work for a chemical company that was taken over by Enron, and part of his pension money was in Enron stock... you wouldn't consider him a lucky stock picker.
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