Cumberland Times-News

Jim Goldsworthy - Anything and Everything

January 11, 2014

You think it’s cold? Here’s what cold is

I have been colder at times than I was last Tuesday. That doesn’t mean I enjoyed it, and I didn’t spend much time out in it.

Cold is relative. An e-mail friend of mine lives in Alaska, and she occasionally tells me about it. I Happy-New-Yeared her and told her it was 50 degrees here. She said winter would catch up with us, eventually. (Another woman I won’t argue with.)

The times I’ve been the coldest were while I was hunting.

One morning I was trying to hide from the wind behind a big old hickory tree. Hunting was the last thing on my mind, but eventually a spike buck came out and I shot him.

Just as I was going over to field-dress him, my buddies came down the hill. They had been at the cabin drinking coffee and noticed I was nowhere around, so they became concerned about me.

The wind had been blowing so hard I couldn’t hear one of them less than a hundred yards away when he tooted on his police whistle to tell me it was time to leave.

Frank Calemine took a thermometer with him, and he said it was two degrees above zero down in that hollow, which during the winter months rarely gets any sunshine.

Another morning started out with temperatures in the low 60s. No long underwear, no heavy hunting coat, just a light orange parka. This was LONG before The Weather Channel, so ... looks like it’s gonna be a nice day today.

A cold front went through. Suddenly it was in the 30s and a breeze came up — a fine day for hunting, but not dressed the way I was. I had my Space Blanket out and was gathering wood for a fire when they came to get me in the pickup truck.

Cold isn’t always what you think it is.

The night Capt. Gary and I went ghost-hunting at Spangler’s Spring in Gettysburg during the middle of November, it was cold but we were dressed for it; he’s spent his share of time deer hunting, too, and knows what to wear.

The wind was blowing snow showers around as we walked through the dark toward a little building where The Lady in White is frequently seen. She’s the shade of a woman who was wearing her wedding gown when she killed herself after hearing that her fiance had died in combat during the Civil War.

This building was put up long after the Civil War by the National Park Service, but she seems to have adopted it as a residence. (Doesn’t seem right to call it her living quarters.)

I’ve seen The Lady in White twice now. Also, our buddy Mark took a picture of a window in the side of this building, and it shows her looking out at him.

Gary and I were fine until we got about 10 feet from this little cabin, but then it was like we stepped through the door of a walk-in freezer. The temperature felt like it had dropped 30 degrees or more, but it was a strange cold ... a cold you feel only at times like this.

It was bitter and chilling and not at all natural. This cold would have gotten to you through a spacesuit.

“We’re not supposed to get any closer than this,” Gary said. “Our friends are telling us we’d better get away from here.” I agreed. (We do have friends there, but just can’t see them.) We began to walk away, and the cold abruptly turned off.

Both of us had deliberately avoided looking into the window where The Lady in White posed for her picture.

We were less than the distance from home plate to first base from that building when we turned to look back at it. We couldn’t see it, even though it was of substantial size and was readily visible through the snow from farther away just a few minutes earlier.  It was just gone. All we could see was a thick gray fog that was nowhere else around.

Neither of us volunteered to walk back to make sure it was still there.

That’s when The Lady in White whizzed past me less than 20 feet away. Having seen her before, I recognized her immediately. Startled, I said, “Hello!” I wasn’t expecting an answer and was just as glad that I didn’t get one.

It was like she was fleeing from something ... or someone. No sooner did she go by than half a dozen black shadows came bolting out of the woods beside the park service building, headed for a nearby ridge.

Presently, Gary and I stood there listening to a gun battle on the other side of that ridge: volley fire from what we could tell were black powder muskets that had lead (makes a sharper CRACK! than plain wadding produces) in the barrels.

This went on for a minute, maybe longer, and there must have been a hundred or more gunshots ... rapid-fire at first, then dwindling in number until the only sound was the wind in the trees.

It was about 7:30 p.m. — the same time a firefight took place on the other side of that very ridge during the battle of Gettysburg.

I have often wondered about that, just as I’ve wondered about the the building that disappeared. Did it go someplace else ... or somewhen? For as close as it was and as big as it was, we couldn’t see it.

But ... maybe it didn’t go anywhere.

Maybe Gary and I did.

You laugh, but once I found myself at a place I’d never seen before, and never was able to find again, even though it was on land I’ve walked for more than 40 years and know as well as I know my own living room.

My companion that day was Queenie, a beagle. We were trying to jump a few rabbits so she could chase them and I could turn them into dinner.

The sweetest, happiest and most gentle of dogs suddenly bared her teeth and began to snarl, with every hair on her back standing straight up, and placed herself between me and something she could see, but I could not.

Whatever it was, it was close. I picked her up and got us out of there as fast as I could.

The coldest cold you ever will feel is the cold that comes from within.

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Jim Goldsworthy - Anything and Everything
  • He means well, and this time they spared his life

    Our pal Phil is the only re-enactor certified in writing by both the Lee and Custis families to portray Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee (whose wife was Mary Anna Custis Lee). When he’s in uniform, he generally stops at the bottom of the path that leads to the summit of Little Round Top, salutes Capt. Gary and First Sgt. Goldy and asks permission to join us. (Get it? Generally ... General Lee?) We always return his salute and grant him permission, in part because he’s our friend and also because the real Lee never got to see what it really looks like from up there. (Get it? Grant ... Grant? U.S. Grant? Real Lee ... really? OK. I hear you. That’s enough. Seriouslee.) Phil gets a kick out of being able to sneak up on us while we’re distracted by tourists.

    July 20, 2014

  • They’d have fallen like Autumn leaves

    So there we were, minding our own business (at least momentarily), leaning against the cannon at Little Round Top.

    July 13, 2014

  • Better read that french fry before you eat it

    People give me otherwise-insignificant items they hope will amuse or inspire me. I appreciate this. I’m always glad for free entertainment, which as Goldy’s Rule 33 says is everywhere. All you have to do is wait and it will come to you. Also, I have been writing columns for 37 years and embrace inspiration anywhere I can find it.

    July 6, 2014

  • The moose is loose, and it’s coming for you

    So how would you like to look out your kitchen door window onto your porch and see a moose looking back at you from close range?

    June 28, 2014

  • There are some debts you can never repay

    Today’s column will be relatively short, as my columns go, for reasons that should become apparent, and I thought long and hard before writing it.

    June 21, 2014

  • It could have saved the county a lot of money

    Random thoughts sometimes occur to me when I least expect it, usually when my brain has become tired.
    When I voice these thoughts at work or in other places, people may tell me, “Goldy? It’s time for you to go home.” Yes, ma’am.
    Here are two random thoughts of recent vintage:
    • If Bugs Bunny were an Emergency Medical Technician, would that make him a MedicHare?
    • If Daisy Duck got a job driving for United Parcel Service, would she be an UPS-a-Daisy?
    I wouldn’t blame you if you think that sounds Goofy — or Daffy.

    June 15, 2014

  • These two were part of the Not Top Ten

    Occasionally, at this time of year, I see reference to a “class orator” or a “class speaker.”

    Nothing wrong with that — people can call such things whatever they want, as far as I’m concerned — but it makes me wonder. Have “valedictorian” and “salutatorian” become politically incorrect, and I didn’t notice? It may come as a surprise to you, but I really have not kept up with what is politically correct or incorrect. That’s what people tell me, anyway. With some of them, it actually seems to be a compliment.

    June 8, 2014

  • Coming soon to a highway near you?

    People say to me, “Goldy? Can I ask you a stupid question?”

    In theory — and theory only — the correct response is: “The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.” Not so much. There ARE stupid questions, some of them so stupid that to call them stupid is to damn them with faint praise. Other questions are — on the face of it — legitimate questions, but shouldn’t be treated as such ... not if you subscribe to the same philosophy that I do: Free entertainment is everywhere; all you have to do is wait, and it will come to you.

    June 1, 2014

  • This was a skill that proved very useful

    The Belmont Park stewards have decided to let California Chrome wear his nasal strip during the Run for the Carnations. Nasal strips usually are worn by people who snore and may have saved numerous marriages. It helps the Triple Crown hopeful to breathe, and some twolegged athletes wear nasal strips for the same reason. In this case, Chrome’s nasal strip may keep him from (wait for it) ... losing by a nose.

    May 25, 2014

  • He made a big splash by asking this question

    “I don’t know who you were talking to last night,” said Capt. Gary, “but you were talking and moaning in your sleep. Never heard you do that before.” Neither has anyone else, I said. Besides, I had told him not to be surprised if we had visitors. I wasn’t at the top of my game for a couple of days, and he said some of our friends asked him if I was all right. It’s not the first time for this, so now I’ll know to watch out for it. It can affect you and is not something to play around with — as our friend Cathy found out.

    May 18, 2014

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