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Mark Rutledge: January is snow time to be losing things by the roadside

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Saturday, January 20, 2018

During a recent conversation with a friend my age, I was asked if I’m beginning to lose my train of thought during conversation. I said I’ve always had that issue, and my friend asked if I think the problem might be getting worse as we become older.

“What problem?” I asked.

I was joking. There certainly are times when my mental sharpness is not what it used to be. Periods of bitter cold weather seem to bring on those times. It could be a combination of short-term memory loss and snow blindness.

During last week’s snow and bitter cold, I repeated a mental lapse that occurred during the same month two years ago, when I started my job at the community college.

The weather conditions were identical — snow followed by bitter cold. Two years ago, I was outside my mother’s farmhouse transferring several items from my large pickup truck, which I keep there, to the small one I use for commuting to work from our rental house.

To free my hand for unlocking the door of my little truck, I placed atop the cab a leather binder just issued to me by the college. At the same moment that I let go of the binder, I made a mental note to be sure to retrieve it before driving off.

But it was cold, and the wind was blowing, and my mental note went whistling away through the nearby frozen woods. I was in my warm bed and about to go to sleep when the note somehow worked its way through my bedroom window and reattached itself to my brain.

I ran outside to see if by chance the binder had made the three-mile trip without falling off. No chance.

Had it been only the binder that was lost, I could have gone right back to sleep. But zipped inside the binder was a just-issued-to-me iPad. With a powerful flashlight, I searched the snowy banks of Possum Hollow Road for more than an hour. No luck.

With the benefit of daylight, my sister and one of my daughters found the binder the next day. I still use the “found it” photo they texted to me as my screensaver at work.

Fast-forward to last Wednesday—another bitterly cold and blustery day. The college was closed for snow, and our home’s 100-pound propane tank was empty. I disconnected the tank from the house, dragged it to my little pickup truck, and needed to free my other hand to open the tailgate.

So as I laid my huge and handy adjustable wrench on the bumper, I made a mental note to myself to be sure to retrieve it before driving off. But it was cold, and the wind was blowing.

That mental note came back to me on the drive home with the refilled propane tank. Maybe it’s still there, I thought.

Good thing it wasn’t. I might have hit myself over the head with it.

The chances of finding it by the snowy roadside were slim to none, but that’s exactly what I did, and it took only two times retracing my tracks.

Obvious conclusion: The colder you get, the more you forget.

Now, what were we talking about?

Contact Mark Rutledge at mrutledge@reflector.com or like him on Facebook at Mark Rutledge Columns.