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Readers' tips for coping with winter's cold

February 05, 2003|by BOB MAGINNIS

Just when you thought it couldn't get any colder, it started to warm up a bit. Now you can credit some movement of the jet stream or El Nino if you want, but consider this:

When I asked readers for tips on how to cope with winter's cold, low temperatures were under 10 degrees and the highs barely broke the freezing mark. Now the lows are in the 20s and the highs are up into the 40-degree range. Just asking the question apparently broke Old Man Winter's grip, at least for a few days.

For Hagerstown's Ann Kendall, the secret is layering. She ought to know, because she's a school crossing guard who has to stand outside for 40 minutes at a time.

"I wear a turtleneck, my uniform shirt, a sweatshirt, a vest, and my coat; two pair of pants, two pair of socks and boots that are 'supposed' to withstand 20 degrees," she wrote.

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"On my hands I wear a pair of gloves, then a pair of mittens. On my head I wear my hat, then a hooded scarf," she said, adding that it also helps when the school's custodian brings her a hot cup of tea.

Andy Schroer, a math teacher at Mercersburg Academy, said he's found something that works really well when there's wet snow.

"Spray the shovel with cooking spray and the snow doesn't stick," he said.

Linda Seibert of Hagerstown has what may be the most unusual approach to mentally preparing herself to deal with cold weather.

"I dislike cold weather so much that it is important for me to keep a positive attitude so that I don't become depressed. Instead of traveling to someplace warm I try to go to an area where the weather is even colder and snowier than it is here. Then when I return home I can think of our area as being 'not so bad after all.' " she said.

For Sylvia Bealer of Gapland, coping with winter began with choosing the "Ocean Breeze" model for her new house. Inside she's decorated the wall near the entrance to the kitchen pantry with a fishnet and what appear - she sent pictures - to be cutouts of seagulls. The beach theme is completed on the kitchen counter, where a Hawaiian pig figurine, complete with grass skirt, does the hula.

But the winning letter comes from Dolores Rickerds of Pleasant Valley, who watches her two grandchildren while their parents are at work.

"When they put those little arms around me, hug me and tell me they love me, that keeps me warm and happy every day," she wrote.

Others whose love keeps her warm include her husband Bubba, her grown daughter Roxi, her friends Stella and Cory and her "church family" at the Brownsville Church of the Brethren. And there's also Maggie, her Irish setter.

"Their love keeps me warm, happy and healthy and I love them also," she wrote.

Mrs. Rickerds also wards off the cold by making up some homemade soup every week, which she shares with "a wonderful lady," her neighbor Nancy.

Mrs. Rickerds closed by saying that "if I'm the winner, send the money to your favorite charity, please."

Will do. A check for $25 will go to the Parent-Child Center, a Washington County nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention of child abuse.

Thanks to all who participated. I still believe, as I wrote some years ago, that in addition to snow days, government should have the power to declare a "great weather day."

Such a day would be declared on the first warm day of early spring, so we don't have to look out the office window and wish we were someplace besides work.




Some years ago I wrote a column about Regina Graber, a local woman trying to re-enter the job market. She contacted me recently to say that she has achieved that goal and now lives in the Sharpsburg area.

Unfortunately, on the morning of Jan. 31, someone shot Dooby, her family's German shepherd. The dog later died at the vet's office.

Graber is offering $100 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever shot the dog and has written a letter about it.

Instead of waiting for the letter to be published, I'm including this in my column because there's a right and wrong way to deal with dogs running loose on your property, if indeed that was why the dog was shot.

Maria Procopio, head of the Washington County Humane Society, said that if called, her officers will come and pick up the offending animal, whose owner will have to pay $35 to retrieve it the first time it happens.

If the dog is not observed encroaching on the neighbor's property, Procopio said she'll set up a hearing so that both parties can sort things out with the help of the Animal Control Authority.

I know from personal experience how aggravating it can be when someone else's pet runs around unleashed, particularly if you're not sure whether or not the dog is friendly.

But even a well-restrained pet will sometimes get loose and the price of that escape shouldn't be death, unless someone is in danger of being attacked. Call the Humane Society, please, at 301-733-2060.

Bob Maginnis is editorial page editor of The Herald-Mail newspapers.

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