Weatherford Democrat

December 15, 2013

NOW HEAR THIS: Taking a trip on the Arctic Express


Weatherford Democrat

— By LARRY M. JONES

I’m not sure about your place, but the weather last weekend was a real bone chiller down on the “pore farm.” Although I have no statistics on the matter, I felt that this little arctic blast was a bit premature for this time of year in North Texas, arriving at least a month or so early. January and February are a lot more likely to have such brutal cold.

Although we’ve had short periods of very cold weather in recent years, we haven’t had the brutal cold spells I have seen in the past. Whether caused by man or a natural weather cycle, we have experienced some degree of global warming in the past couple of decades. How can I be certain of this fact? I applied a time-honored method to my assessment – I haven’t had to chop a hole in the ice on my stock tank for the cattle to drink in more than 20 years. In times past, I watched my father do this with routine regularity.

This last cold spell was similar to one I saw as a child back in the early 1950s. The ground was covered with 3-4 inches of white stuff, but it wasn’t snow. It was worst case scenario – a sleet and frozen rain sheet of ice that was “slicker than a mink.” During this time, my Grandpa Jones lived by himself up the hill across our pasture. Having no telephone at the time, my father would walk to Grandpa’s house daily to check on him. On one such trek, he slipped on a steep slope near the fence along the road and was unable to stop. As he picked up speed, he told of seeing the lower strand of barbed wire on the fence just in time to duck under it at the last moment.

My wife and I have both seen a lot of cold weather. As a teenager she lived two years in Argentia, Newfoundland when her father was stationed there in the Navy. I endured a six-month deployment to Keflavik, Iceland, and from these and other experiences, we learned a deep respect for icy weather conditions.

Last weekend, I did see a couple of cars come creeping along the road in front of my house. Must have been a heart attack – no one should be foolish enough to get out in that kind of weather for any other reason. Thankfully, before this cold snap, my wife and I had heeded earlier predictions and laid in a good supply of provisions. Since we’re tied onto a gas well for heat, I didn’t have to chop a lot of firewood. However, we did get a good scare on the first morning of the blizzard – our heat was off. Thankfully, it was a bit of frozen condensate in the supply regulator on the line coming into the house. A tea kettle of boiling water solved that little dilemma.

For years I’ve heard the saying that no one ever retires and moves up north because of the weather, but a few more cold spells like this last one, we may see a new trend evolve.

Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to nowhearthis@pwhome.com.