Today's topic begins with a couple of thought-provoking questions:

* If it's zero degrees outside today, and it's supposed to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold is it going to be?

* How does the guy who drives the snowplow get to work? Challenge yourself for an answer.

We have been thinking about our memories of past winters. What comes to mind first are the worst, the coldest, the most snow, blizzards, etc.

One Christmas, we had the family dinner at our house. Guests had to walk to the house in knee-deep snow, but they came anyway.

We remember the winter the snow was so deep the roads were blocked. We needed liquid petroleum gas, dairy cattle grain delivered and the milk truck to come in to pick up our milk. We became weary with worry as we waited. Jim had cleared our yard with the Oliver tractor, which had a snow blade but no cab -- a very cold job. When the snowplow made it to our place, he was followed by three trucks, grain, milk and gas.

February and March were calving months for us. We remember checking the stock cows due to calve each night before bedtime, then set the alarm to get up and go out again after midnight, bundle up, go out in the cold, come back and catch a few more winks of sleep. It never failed to have some bad weather during calving season.

Our memories seem to go back to being cold and the problems we had, but we need to include how we dressed to keep warm. Dressing in layers is important, starting with long johns, several shirts and jeans under coveralls, hooded sweatshirt over hand-knitted stocking cap and a scarf. Also heavy wool socks and buckle overshoes. Don't forget gloves inside mittens. Guess what got cold first: your nose.

Before you got dressed, you made a bathroom call 'cause with all those clothes on it was hard to go later. Reminds me of the child all dressed in his snowsuit saying "Mamma, I gotta go."

We remember as kids sleeping in cold bedrooms with feather ticks on our beds. With the wind on cold winter nights howling through the bare trees and whipping snow into deep drifts, we'd just snuggle deeper under the covers.

Our children remember doing chores in the cold, trudging through deep snow. When you have to work in it, you don't feel like playing in it.

When they were old enough to drive to school, even though Jim had cleared the road, they still had to get out of our yard. We live in a valley, so there is a steep hill to climb. The boys put weights in the trunk of the car. They started at the bottom on the level in front of the barn and gave it a run, hoping to make it to the top of the hill.

Now-a-days, we are so thankful for the four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Sometimes we think maybe the bear has the right idea -- hibernate. But we are now retired from outside chores and can spend our time inside when it's cold or nasty.

It is important to also recall the beauty of snow -- pure white covering everything, sparkling in the sunshine. When it melts, it will provide much needed moisture. In the spring, the brave crocus poking up through the snow always gives hope.

A few days ago, it was warm enough outside to wear only a light jacket, but today the temperature started in the single digits and was below freezing all day. I wore a nice warm heavy sweatshirt, a Christmas gift with a jolly snowman wearing a top hat and catching a star in his hand with "Believe" written across his chest. We think that means don't despair, believe spring will come. Time goes by so fast it'll be here before we know it.

We want to invite you to come to the 10th annual Ground Hog Supper at 5 p.m. Saturday at St. John Lutheran Church north of Ellis. There will be all-you-can-eat pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage and beverages. Freewill offerings will be taken, and good food and good fellowship provided.

Jim and Opal Flinn, Ellis, are members of the Generations Advisory Group.