“Grandpa, my hands are cold and I can’t find my gloves” said a small whimpering six year old voice behind me. I laid down my ice fishing auger and turned to see two little bare red hands extended out to me in the freezing temperatures. No gloves, 100 yards away from the semi-warm fish house, freezing temperatures with below zero wind chill and my grandson had wandered across the ice to find me with no gloves on. I had asked him to stay in the fish house while I drilled more holes to look for better fishing. He didn’t.
I took off my gloves and cradled his in my warm hands and gently cradled them while warming them. While he tried unsuccessfully to hide sniffles I was feeling my own father cradling my hands 59 years ago while adventuring in the woods to look for the perfect Christmas tree. I had managed to get very cold, was near death and I was only five. My father told how his much older brother had warmed his hands at -30 temperatures as they gathered firewood. His brother also told him how to keep his hands warm when they start getting cold as he told me and as I had told my son (another story) and now my grandson.
It’s not good to be cold.
All other rules are associated with this rule. Another rule: don’t get wet (because you will get cold). Another: wear layers of warm enough clothes to keep you warm (or you will get cold). Yet another: keep active (or you will get cold).
My grandson violated about 10 rules for staying warm. After drilling holes through 18″ of ice and setting up our fold up fishing shelter, little man stepped into one of the 10″ augured holes up to his thigh in the icy water. I took his boot and sock off, wrung out the sock and boot lining, dumped the water out of his boot, took one of my boots off and a wool sock and put it on him. It was so big I folded it back over the foot for a double layer. I found a plastic bag to keep the sock and foot dry and put it up to his thigh under the pant-leg to keep him dry. Note to self: bring extra little clothing and gear next time. My grandson then left his gloves outside on the lake (lost them temporarily) because the fish house was warm enough.
My Perspective: it was a half mile hike across the lake against a chilly breeze pulling a sled loaded with all the ice fishing gear. I was hot and sweaty in the 15 minutes it took to get to the pickup at a brisk walk. My grandson sobbed all the way while I encouraged him to keep his hands (with his found gloves) under the armpits and keep moving to stay warm.
Grandsons perspective: We were miles from the pickup and grandpa made me run all the way back to warm me up, but it made my hands colder, my feet froze and my legs froze. Grandpa would’t let me ride in the sled (which would have made me warm) and I thought we would die.
Some day little man, you will cradle your sons hands and remember grandpa (fondly).
A life perspective: My little guy thinks he got cold suddenly. He didn’t. It took time and a few wrong moves on his part. I knew he would feel warm within 5 minutes of getting to the pickup (he did). He got cold by not doing things to stay warm (as I suggested with warnings continuously). He didn’t even know he was getting cold and there-in lies the danger. We easily drift toward cold family relationships, marriages, become obsolete in the work place, we don’t pay attention to the possibility of a meaningful relationship with God or just don’t pay attention to life itself around us.
Remember the number one rule, don’t get cold. Our natural default is to drift into having Cold Cold hands.