Welcome to February.

Three more months until the warmth comes, the crocuses sprout, snow stops.

The first part of this season was like an open winter, as my father used to call it.

Not much snow, fairly reasonable temperatures, easy maneuvering. The fields looked wide open.

We thought we’d slip through January unscathed, but then the snow came and with it, the wretched ice.

I know enough about ice mishaps to start wearing crampons or cleats, those stretchy, rubber contraptions with spikes that you clap onto the bottom of your shoes or boots to keep from slipping and falling.


We had two old pairs, one missing a couple of spikes and the other so small that I nearly wrenched my shoulder trying to force them onto my husband Phil’s shoes. Time to buy new ones.

The stores we visited had sold out already, so I ordered online. Those crampons are a godsend, and one I wish I’d known about some 30 years ago. Injuries on ice happen so quickly you don’t have time to think or prepare.

I was visiting my parents one winter night in Skowhegan in the early 1990s and their driveway was a sheet of ice. I left their house around 9 p.m., my pocketbook strapped across one shoulder, a leather case over the other, and carrying a bag in my right hand.

Wearing knee-high, black, leather dress boots with no treads, I traversed the ice without a thought when suddenly, I was on the ground, unable to move.

I tried turning this way, that way, tried to get up. No dice. Each time, I experienced searing pain.

I yelled, praying my folks would hear but knowing they wouldn’t, as their television was at top volume. I had gotten myself into a good pickle.


The nearest house was my brother’s, situated a few hundred feet to the northeast.

I shrieked and yelped, but the only answer I got was from his dog, who barked at every calling. I finally heard my brother’s voice, scolding the dog for what he thought was an overactive penchant for barking at wild animals.

Eventually he heard my calls for help and came rushing through the dark, across the snow and ice, to discover me lying there, cold, immobile and wincing in pain.

Unable to help me up, he called for an ambulance and I was taken to the hospital where the X-ray machine wasn’t working so they used a mobile one. The doctor said I had a bruised pelvic bone and recommended I go home and rest. Getting off the examining table was excruciatingly painful and while they gave me crutches, I could barely make it to and into the car.

Unable to sleep that night I thought, if this how a bruised pelvis feels, I wonder what a broken one is like.

Around 7 the next morning, an emergency room doctor called, apologizing profusely, saying a reexamined X-ray showed I had a cracked pelvic bone.


I lay in bed a few days after that, got around with a walker for a while and then graduated to crutches and finally, a cane. It was a slow recovery.

Which is all to say, don’t be too confident and leave home in this weather without proper foot gear. It can mean the difference between a safe trek to the mailbox and a painful trip to the hospital.

Bumps, bruises, broken bones and brain injuries are no fun and can occur in the blink of an eye.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 34 years. Her columns appear here weekly. She may be reached at acalder@centralmaine.com. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

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