The Big Chill
My brother recently told me that he is cold nearly all the time and he said he’s been cold ever since we snorkeled in a cold Canadian lake close to 30 years ago. He told me that he was so cold in the water that day that he nearly drowned.
I recalled the day. The water was colder than I ever remembered it to be on previous summers. I am seven years his junior, but somehow the water didn’t effect me quite so drastically. I could see his exhaustion when he pulled himself out of the water by our cabin.
It reminded me of one of the works by Robert Service, "The Cremation of Sam McGee" where Sam froze to death in the Yukon and when friends cremated him they checked on his progress and he was inside the furnace alive. The last portion of the poem is:
"And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close that door.
It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm—
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.”
I hadn’t thought about this event since it happened until he brought it up as we talked around the fire pit recently. It made me wonder how many things in my past altered my present life or what events upset my core temperature, so to speak.