Kickass and the Armistice Day storm

Kickass, the doorstop dog, follows the keeper’s example in mining his long and sometimes sordid past for entertainment and meaning, and today the target for both of them is the Armistice Day storm of 1940 when 149 people—mostly duck hunters along the Mississippi River, died when a warm, short-sleeve morning collapsed into a raging blizzard with 60-80 mph winds, 60 degree temperature drop and some 20 inches of snow.  While the keeper was old enough at the time to remember things, he has only a vague impression of a wild weather weekend when adults stood at the windows and couldn’t believe what they were seeing.  Kickass, on the other hand, likes to remember the story of how Minnesota duck hunter Gerald Tarras survived on an isolated river island when the two family Labrador retrievers laid down beside him and provided body heat.  As a journalist, the keeper has revived the storm on occasion, and now in this spate of unseasonable cold he does it again.  He stands at the window and looks out at the cold and snow, and thinks about those duck hunters freezing to death so many years ago and also about that one saved by the dogs that lay down beside him.  Kickass would have done the same for the keeper except a cast-iron dog does not generate much body heat.

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