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Keep winter memories alive to warm the heart
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This past week, we came to know the meaning of "Polar Vortex." The cold converged on Midwest and the Eastern regions of the country without mercy. Health issues became a matter of life and death for humans and other animals. Frostbite was threatening exposed skin. Schools were closed, and people were told to stay indoors. More than 1,000 flights were canceled. It was too dangerous for the news reporters to continue reporting on how dangerous it was. If some of us had forgotten words like "Fahrenheit" and "hypothermia," we remembered them in a hurry.

Winter is a season I simply love. I own a heavy green coat that was made in Russia; it is my constant outerwear from December through the winter months. I also enjoy wearing other winter clothing: tweeds, gloves and hats. I always select colorful outerwear; the colors make me smile on days that seem gloomy or mysterious.

I often wonder what happens to plants in our yards. As a child, I used to think that the trees and plants went to sleep in the winter. I would imagine them with coats, trying to keep warm. Most of them will make it through the hard winters, though, sadly, some will die.

The story I am about to tell you actually happened to me. Some of you may be able to relate. Friends who have heard this have been speechless afterward.

It was the winter of 1987. I was alone in my home; my son was away in college. Sometime during the night, my heating system stopped functioning. Around 2 a.m., my bedside phone rang. On the phone, a voice called me by my middle name; only family members call me by that name.

The pleasant voice called my name three times, and then I felt a coldness sweep over my body. The top of my head was cold. I felt like I was freezing.

I got out of bed and discovered that the furnace wasn’t working. It was so cold in the house that some of my favorite plants were dying.

I needed heat fast. I remembered that my father had given me a kerosene heater, so I went to my garage to get some kerosene and the heater. They warmed up the room quickly. Of course, I opened a window for safety’s sake.

I went back to sleep. Later that morning, I awoke and thought about that voice that had called to me. I was baffled. I also felt ill, so I called my doctor and arranged an office visit.

When I told him what had happened, he said it was a good thing that voice awakened me, because I might have frozen to death. He said there are occurrences that can’t be explained, and that the phone call was one of them. Do not concern yourself about what happened, he said; just be pleased the call woke you up.

To this day, I wonder about that night. My father had died in October of 1986, and I believe that was his voice. That mysterious, sweet voice of winter saved my life. The only person I knew who had frozen to death was a friend of my father’s in Alabama.

This winter of 2014 will never be forgotten. I won’t forget a phone call I received last week from my husband, who is a trucker.

Those of you who are truckers or are married to truckers know that we are fearful in the winter months. Last week my trucker spouse almost had a rollover. Luckily, a snow bank stopped the truck. He sent me a video of his accident. I was happy to see that it wasn’t really a bad accident and he wasn’t harmed. The smart phone is a wonderful invention, isn’t it?

What about you? What will be your winter 2014 story? Have you documented this historical winter? If you haven’t, write about it. You may find that writing your memories will bring forth that writer inside of you.

Winter also is a wonderful time for cooking. I bake bread only in the winter months. As I was writing this today, I decided I would bake some bread to go with a homemade turkey, beans and rice dish. I’ll have honey and warm butter to go with the homemade bread, a perfect winter meal.

I don’t have mountain views from my home, but I do enjoy the vista of the small wooded area in my back yard.

My landscape is my personal getaway at any time of the year, but the winter is a special time when my dog and I just walk together.

Keep warm and enjoy our wonderful winter months.


Dorothy Frazier Piedrahita welcomes reader comments. She can be reached at