Shambling in a Winter Wonderland

The holidays are finally over, and winter is well and truly upon us. Now that we’re finally done with the mad rush of cooking dinners and shopping for people (and sometimes vice versa), my little shamblers and I are finally ready to kick back and relax and enjoy the refreshing change in the weather.

Winter can be tricky, though, especially in rural areas that have a hunting season. They don’t even seem to care if I wear an orange cap or not. Here are a few more hazards to watch out for in the coming months.

Frostbite. Once a finger or toe snaps off, it never goes back on the same way again. Sure you can sew it on, but then the flesh pulls and rots away, and it’s a constant upkeep nightmare. Gloves and boots are a must. And if you do lose a finger, good-fitting gloves will keep it from getting lost in the snow.

Snowmobiles. More agile than a car or truck, and capable of doing similar damage to a well-rotted body. They are safe to follow at night, though. If the breather driving it has been drinking, odds are pretty good you’ll get a free meal out of it.

Kids on Sleds. Or as I like to call them, brutal little sadists. I swear they camp out at the top of every snowy incline and wait for the chance to slam into an unsuspecting shambler-by. Last winter I got both legs knocked out from under me, and it took forever to find them both. I eventually found the second leg in a nearby tree with two toes missing, and the kid didn’t even apologize. He just yelled something about George Romero and ran back to the top of the hill to try again.

But winter has lots of upsides, too. The biggest one is that self-preservation is much easier. Damp, warm air rots a body faster than anything, and winter air is neither warm nor damp. Hunting is also safer and easier. People leave their cars running to warm up the engine, which is ideal for the old hide-in-the-back-seat-until-they-start-driving trick. The looks on their faces never gets old.

There are a lot of ways for a kid to have fun in the snow, too. My kids’ favorite game is to hide inside a snowbank and jump out at pedestrians. This can be a problem when they play outside while it’s snowing, however. The plows drive by constantly, piling the banks higher and higher, and it can be hard for the kids to push their way out.

One winter it took three days to dig my daughter out, because we got about three feet of snow and her brothers pretended not to remember where they’d buried her. By the time we got her out of there, she’d frozen so badly I had to stitch most of her fingers and toes back on. It’s true; parenting does take a skillful hand. This winter I plan to strap small flags to their backs so it doesn’t happen again.

Have fun everyone, and have a truly apocalyptic new year.

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