HOVERING AROUND THE RADIATOR

How could these winter mornings not remind me ?

1962. For days the mercury hovered near zero. That didn’t matter. The cattle still needed feeding, not to mention milking.

Lest I forget, 15 or 20 heifers, a small flock of laying hens, a couple of pigs and a bull all needed attention, too. A swarm of cats populated the barn for mouse control. By and large, there was plenty to do before and after school.

The work started well before daylight. The initial walk from the house to the barn seemed an unspeakable gauntlet that defied every crunching footstep. The cold produced tears in my eyes that were frozen before they hit the ground.

To a young kid, there seemed plenty that wasn’t right about this, and I suppose there was. Was I going to voice objection ? That, too, was unspeakable if a wrath was to be avoided. Better to just let it go and get the work done.

I did have my own little world, however. It was in front of the heat radiator in the living room. It was here where the chill disappeared, here where I hung my tattered cloth gloves invariably wet from watering livestock earlier each morning.

I could “regroup” in front of that radiator and painstakingly spread out those gloves to insure complete dryness before I had to put them on again. If I didn’t do it, nobody would. It was a simple lesson, but a good one .

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