Licking the Swingset

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I grew up in a tiny house in Michigan. I estimate the house to have been about 580 square feet, but it could have been smaller. It consisted of a livingroom, a kitchen, two bedrooms, and a bathroom, all small. It had a screened front porch and a detached one-car garage.

In a neighborhood built in the inverse of today's development style, our tiny house was on a large lot, and the outdoors was part of our living space. When we weren't in school, my brother and I spent almost all our time outside. When I played with dolls, I played outside. When I painted, I painted outside. And my most vivid memories by far are of playing outside in winter.

I don't remember my mother ever saying "Don't go outside today; it's too cold," and this was Michigan. In the winter she bundled us into "snowsuits" consisting of thickly padded pants and jackets with hoods. We pulled on rubber boots and thick mittens and were sent out to build snowmen and catch snowflakes on our tongues.

I was never aware of the temperature as a child, but I can say with confidence that it was very, very cold. There was deep snow on the ground throughout winter. Enormous icicles hung from the eaves of the house, several inches thick and reaching almost to the ground. I remember igloo-like "forts" built with packed snow that stood solidly through the winter months.

I can't remember ever complaining about the cold, or minding it. We never asked to go back inside because we were cold; we stayed out until our mother called us in because it was getting dark. Then we peeled off wet snowsuits and sat in front of the radiator, the only source of heat in the house, our skin tingling painfully as sensation returned to numbed limbs.

The only winter warning issued by my mother was "Don't put your mouth on the swingset." The swingset in the backyard was metal, and she claimed that our lips and tongues would stick to it, and that it would "take the skin right off." I can't speak for my brother, but for me, issuing any such directive was counter-productive. Of course I put my tongue on the swingset-- not just the tip of it, but a good portion of the flat of it. Laying my tongue on the pole that supported the glider is one of my favorite childhood memories. Indeed, my tongue stuck to the metal. But I didn't panic. I spent several moments savoring this strange new tongue-stuck-to-metal sensation, and then, contrary to my mother's dire predictions, I found that I was able to slowly, carefully, pull my tongue away.

Examining the pole, I could see the print of my tongue. My saliva had turned to a layer of frost.


Haha… That was a nice story you wrote there. Well hope to read more stories from you about you and your son Mike

I think it was colder than that when I went skiing this last time... I was pretty sure that my face was going to freeze off before I got my mask heh.

Wonderful story, reminded me of similiar experiences. It was an aluminun screen door for me. Very nice

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