A weatherman’s comment last week that it was the coldest Indiana day since January, 1994, rang a very loud bell in the Bridges household.

On that day, I was working in Taipei while Karen and son
Colin held the fort at home. I telephoned to complain that I was freezing—it had gotten down to 55 degrees F outside my apartment. That’s above zero. When I relayed this information to my wife, there was a very frosty moment of trans-Pacific silence. Then she said, “That’s just about 90 degrees warmer than it was here last night.” The Indiana temperature had dropped to minus-36 degrees actual, with a wind chill of 85 below and a foot of snow on the ground. It was the coldest night ever recorded in Franklin, Indiana.

What I’d been blissfully ignorant of, in those days before instant text or e-mail communication, was that Karen and Colin had been fighting a desperate and not wholly successful battle for several days to keep pipes unfrozen, the washer working, and themselves alive. I did not get a lot of sympathy for my troubles in Taipei.

But I was an experienced husband and caught on pretty quickly. I phoned a friend in Franklin and arranged for her to call a local florist and have a large bouquet delivered. After 25 years, neither Karen nor I quite remember what the flowers were. That bit was overshadowed when the delivery person chewed Karen out royally for not having her driveway plowed.

Ah well, time passes and here we were again last week with temps plunging toward the 1994 record. This time I was there to help keep faucets running and send occasional loads through the washer. We got out with only one briefly frozen pipe, an intake to the toilet, which I was able to thaw out quickly with a hair dryer. No flowers this time either, though there will be when I next get out to Kroger’s.

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