GHD-1972

February 2, 1972

Dear Friends-and-Relations,

And a Happy Ground Hog Day to you, too. Here in Minnesota it’s cloudy and snowy, which should mean that winter is almost over, but the weather report for the rest of the week is high about zero, so I’m not sure I trust legends.

Actually, I am very happy, even enthusiastic, about our first winter here. I can see merit in the argument that the period Nov–March should be spent in California or Florida where there is no winter (I don’t agree with it, but I can see it), but this is much better than Chicago or Long Island or Ohio. There one gets snow and sub-zero sometimes—but next day it may get melty mushy and messy. Further, since one knows it won’t last, one doesn’t bother to get proper equipment or clothing. Here, the ground has always been white (and I do mean white—if snow did last in Chicago it was black within a week) ever since Christmas. The temperature has nudged freezing once or twice, but we’ve had lots of “tropical” days of mostly sunny, high about 20, low near zero, virtually no wind. But even when it’s a low of -30 and a high of -10, I usually bundle up in my net underwear, regular underwear, corduroy slacks, cotton shirt, two pair of socks, Mickey-Mouse boots, down jacket, wool facemask cap, and down mittens and walk the 2½ miles between home and office at least one way.

And I own a pair of snowshoes—long ones with extra good bindings. One day, after a 4-inch fresh snowfall at night, I snowshoed to and from the office for variety. From our house to the bridge—about halfway—there’s a path along the riverbank, partly next to the river (THE river, that is) and mostly halfway up the bank through the trees (And the rest is along a sidewalk on River Road East). Sometimes my yesterday’s prints in the snow are the only ones I see on part of the path. All this in a metropolitan area of almost 2 million people.

Last Saturday Roger Fosdick and I drove 40 miles to a state park on the St. Croix river and snowshoed all day. Mostly through the woods, but some on the river itself. I have now snowshoed across a state line (last summer I swam across it). At one point we crossed a frozen lake with no other prints of man or animal until we made our double tracks. I find that exciting although with today’s snowfall the evidence is probably gone.

Monday night was clear, moderate (about +5), perfectly calm, and a full moon. I put my snowshoes on and walked along THE riverbank for about an hour. Truly beautiful. And I only cross our front street to get to it.

Our house is living up to all expectations. The hot air (forced) heating system, with both inlets and outlets at floor level and with built-in automatic humidifier keeps us warm but not too hot at 30 below. At night we turn off all the lights, open the curtains, and look across the river through our picture window. Thea’s favorite way of enjoying Minnesota winter is from the heated side of a picture window! I like it too.

Or, if we don’t want to view the snow, we go to our basement living room, light the fire in the fireplace, pour a drink from our built-in bar, and throw peanut shells in the fireplace.

By a strange and wonderful coincidence, Philip had his co-op job just outside Minneapolis, so we had frequent visits from him and his cats until he went back to IIT in January.

Liz drops in once or twice in a while. She’s a comfortable person to have around. Does more than her share in our large kitchen; is getting increasingly proficient at the piano.

Sue starts this week at Washington University in St. Louis in the Applied Math Dept. Her letters contain frequent references to a “hypothetical event like a wedding” sometime in the “indefinite future.” We’ve both met David and like him very much; he’s also (by a coincidence?) in grad school at Washington U.

In case you haven’t seen it before, I thought I’d throw in one page of one of my stationeries. I’m also on the BED (Basic Engineering Dept) Policy Board, Communications Policy Board, and National Nominating Committee, all in ASME. I’ve got 7 students in my graduate course, but no thesis students yet. And on a couple of department committees (ah, for the good-old-days under Peter Chiarulli when there were no department committees), and once in a while I do a bit of research. Finally learned how to communicate via teletype with the computer last week.

And that about does it for GHD (Ground Hog Day, remember?). Maybe some year I should write a Christmas letter, like everyone else does!

Philip

Original letter was hand-written on lined paper, except for the last page which was on The American Society of Mechanical Engineers/Journal of Applied Mechanics stationery