We lived in the boonies… and the life out there wasn’t easy. Because of that life (most of my childhood), I’ve never grasped the love that city folks have for camping. We heated our house with wood, our water came from the spring, and when the winter hit hard… we battened down the hatches and rode it out as best we could. We didn’t always have electricity or a phone, and we had no television. It was an odd life for an American family living in the 1970’s and 80’s, but I didn’t realize how very different we were from many until I was much older.
When blizzard conditions hit, we’d follow a long rope, nearly 100 feet from the basement walkout to the goat & chicken shed. Bundled up in as many layers as we could shove our bodies into we’d clutch the rope in one hand and the milk pail in the other. Yes, I have milked goats. Never since have I encountered those white-out conditions we experienced there in snow belt. It was truly terrifying. You couldn’t see a foot in front of your face, it seemed. White has never been so dark. That walk, lifting legs high in the deep snow… feeling as if that rope was a mile long… all of that led me to fear a frigid death.
I was absolutely certain that one day, the other end of the rope would come untied… or my numb fingers would let loose of it… and I would be dead dead dead. Oh and cold. Cold and quite dead.
I don’t recall the exact circumstances under which I told my father about this mind-numbing fear. I’d like to think that the Jim Reeves song was a coincidence. It was recorded before my birth. This I know for certain... suddenly, it seemed, my father really liked “The Blizzard” and he sang it… a lot. Later I would buy my father that record as a gift (go figure). It would last far too long… until he left it in the back window of the car and it warped. I wish I could say I was sad about that.
After hearing this song at least 100 times… I damn-near developed a tic when it came to walking to the shed. Goats and chickens be damned… I was terrified.
What a horrible song… about a poor bastard who freezes to frickin’ death just feet away from his front door… Criminy. Never mind the fact that his horse’s name is Dan… who names a horse “Dan”?
“Dan, get up, you ornery cuss, or you’ll be the death of us...” awesomely terrible lyrics… wow