Near Snow Experience

red_hydrant in woods

2014-11-16 – You call this snow? Nat did.

Kit and I visited Nat yesterday in Beloit, WI, where he goes to school. He was complaining about the unseasonable cold and said that the only thing that makes cold worth it is if it snows. Before we left him to return to Chicago, we stopped at a Mexican restaurant for an early dinner. When we came out, snow was falling.

Nat was all excited. He said that the first snow would be an auspicious time for someone (or someones) at the school to run naked from Wall to Bell—or some such thing. I’ve see the place called the Wall and it does not appear to be a wall, so I suppose that the Bell is not a bell. I didn’t ask.

I was just amazed that kids would do this in the cold. We asked Nat if he would do it. He said he didn’t think so. I pointed out that certain things shrivel up in the cold. He said that didn’t matter. I could only think of Chicago’s naked bike ride, which occurs sometime in June. I wouldn’t mind doing that ride myself, but even June can still be a little too cold for me.

The snow wasn’t forecast to extend to Chicago—at least that’s what my iPhone app said. The snow made the drive back difficult and, contrary to the forecast (which changed while we were driving), it followed us all the way home. It didn’t stick much, though.

When I took Lefty out into the park this morning, it looked like maybe half an inch. You couldn’t call it a blanket of snow. The blades of grass could still be seen. Sidewalks were only partially covered. A huge flock of Canada geese were grazing in the east field. These birds come to Rogers Park for the winter. And I like to let Lefty chase them. He was bred to chase geese. And so he ran back and forth like a maniac and the flock first started toddling this way and that and then rose into the air as one and flew off to the west.

Near snow experiences.

These days you hear a lot about near death experiences. (How’s that for a transition? The winter cold and darkness always does that to me.) These are occurring more and more as more and more people are monitored during acute health crises. Someone flat lines, but then recovers. They say that they were dead and that it was all lovely and serene.

Of course, they weren’t dead. The proof of that is that they wrote a book.

The problem is that people confuse evidence with fact. We monitor brain waves to tell if someone has died. If someone’s brain activity appears to fall to zero, we call them dead. If it falls to zero and they recover, we call it a near death experience.

People say I look like Steven Spielberg. I have been stopped in public places by strangers who are amazed by the resemblance. I don’t think it is anything more than the beard and glasses, but they thing it is uncanny. I call this a near Spielberg experience. I may look like Spielberg but I am not him.

I love to tell the following story about vital signs monitoring. When Nat was born, we had a little health scare (which turned out to be nothing). Shortly after his birth, he was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit and hooked to equipment for monitoring his vital signs. When they were done, I was allowed into the area to see him. Right as I walked in, the monitors flat lined.

I apparently turned white. The nurse on duty quickly told me, “look at the baby!” Nat was moving around and was not in any sort of distress. The monitors were one kind of evidence of Nat’s condition, but the evidence was false.

The cause of the false conclusion in Nat’s case was that the leads had fallen off him. The cause or causes of the false conclusion in near death experiences are undoubtedly subtler. Those folks may have looked dead, but they weren’t.

Early cold and snow may be evidence of a long, cold winter to come or they may be a fluke. We’re so impatient to know. But when things are changing, sometimes the quick answer isn’t right.


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