by Richard Lindell; firstname.lastname@example.org
in the Frigid Tales Series:
against the epochs of history, ten minutes is a mere speck in time.
For Dave Goody Goodbrand, Charles Meanwell (henceforth
known as Chuck), Frisky the dog (mans best friend), and I,
the next ten minutes will nearly lead to my eternity.
Craigs Beach, Oxley, Ontario February 15, 1964
We didnt go into Aunt Claudia and Uncle
Jacks when we arrived in Craigs Beach,
but headed directly down the cliff stairs to a frozen Lake Erie.
Do you think its safe? Wonders my 13th-grade buddy,
It must be. Look at those fishermen way out there, I
reply. Lets go!
Normally, mid-February ice on Lake Erie is at least two-feet thick.
What the three of us didnt realize was that the balmy Christmas
weather has made a significant difference in that year as
we were about to find out.
No sooner do we step out on the ice than we hear ominous crackling
It must just be thinner close to shore! I shout, Those
guys must be half a mile out there.
A friendly beagle bays from outside the fishermens ice hut
and Frisky is in hot pursuit. Suddenly we lose Chuck or at
least half of him as hes crashed through the ice up to his
waist. He recovers quickly with Goodys help and they hurry
back to shore.
I scan the horizon while shouting for Frisky and spot her in the
water about half way between her beagle buddy and us. I rush to
her aid. As I get closer, I notice her normally strong swimming
stroke is a blur of frantic movements as she tries to escape her
Then, six feet from the broken edge, I plunge through! My feet barely
touch bottom as icy water fills my boots and clothes; never have
I felt this kind of cold! I manage to push Frisky out and then start
breaking the ice to find a thicker area. Eventually, I slowly slide
Lets get the hell out of here, girl! I scream,
but she has already responded to Dave and Chucks shouts and
is heading for safety. She finds another soft spot and the ice caves
in around her. This time I just jump in and am somewhat relieved
to discover that the water is only chest high. Again I retrieve
my dog and again I slowly pull myself out.
The shore is getting closer, but once more Frisky submerges into
the water, barely struggling this time. Goody, the scientist of
the group, shouts advice, Lay down on the ice and increase
your surface area! Slowly crawl to Frisky!
I do as instructed, but from that moment on, I will have a more
than a quiet distrust of the scientific mind. I get closer to Frisky
than during the two previous episodes, but this time the ice breaks
at my waist and I slide into the water face first under Frisky and
past the open water.
By sheer luck (and not good management), I smash through the ice
covering my coffin, push Frisky out and try to extricate
myself but this time, I cant move, and I dont
really seem to care. Im feeling absolutely nothing.
Damn it Rich, get out of there! Goody screams as he
and Chuck head for me. Their shouts of encouragement somehow revive
me and I heave myself out and then step onto solid ground.
The four of us climb the stairs up the hundred foot cliff to the
house while the wind blows against our backs. When we reach the
lawn above, we have been transformed into three snowmen and one
Uncle Jack meets us at the back door and immediately shouts for
clothes and blankets. He orders us to strip in the bathroom. After
drying Frisky and bundling ourselves up, we charge to the fireplace
and start to thaw. As steam rises from our hair and the shaking
subsides, we finally start to feel good.
Suddenly I am aware of a major personal problem. Lets see,
how should I explain this? In winter the testes of the ram ascend
from their normal position in the scrotum, up the inguinal canal
into the abdomen. From this position it is impossible to impregnate
a ewe until the spring when the testes reverse their path
Sorry, maybe Im getting too technical here. How about this?
Like a forgetful squirrel in winter, I have misplaced my acorns
or, how about my swallows arent returning to Capistrano?
Eight minutes and 43 seconds later (but whos counting?) Capistranos
mission bells begin to chime, my problem reverses and I heave a
huge sigh of relief. I immediately rip up my application as a perennial
soprano for the Vienna Boys Choir.
Today, as a veterinarian, I will occasionally get bitten or scratched
by a pet. Since I have very slow reflexes and very little pain sensation
in my skin I dont tend to pull away and the damage usually
is minimal, although sometimes not very pretty.
However, if I ever find myself walking on lake ice and I hear even
the whisper of a cracking noise, I recall a certain day in February
1964. A charge of a primordial reflex hurls me in the direction
of the shore so rapidly even Donovan Bailey would not beat me in
that race to safety.
in the Frigid Tales Series: