As I’m sure that you can surmise by the warm and snow deprived winter we have had so far, this has not been a very good year for FATSO.
For those of you unfamiliar, FATSO is the acronym for Flatlanders Adjusting To Solitary Oblivion, a support group for new transplants to the area to help them adjust to their first few winters here.
Winters like this one are rare, but they are also dangerous.
I am not talking about the obvious dangers like driving a truck on thin ice on the lake; even though that’s not really a danger in the true sense of the word since most people with common sense wouldn’t attempt it in the first place.
I am not talking about the danger of a warm winter and how it can affect the local economy by keeping away the winter visitors which is always a concern.
The danger I am talking about is the overwhelming sense of calm that befalls those same new transplants here for their first winters who have been told about the upcoming season, steeled themselves for its arrival and prolonged stay and are now thinking that it is not as bad as they imagined and things will be just fine.
Over the many years that FATSO has been around, we have learned that our mission is to not only help folks when a harsh winter is upon us, but to make sure that the highly disillusioned new Flatlanders among us in years like this, can still be taught to understand the harsh realities of a real winter here and how to deal with it so as to be prepared.
That it why a few years back, during a similar warm winter, we developed a winter survival class that FATSO offers at a reasonable fee.
In this class we will present participants with simulated real case scenarios that will give them a true sense of the season. It lasts for a week and includes housing and three meals a day.
The first course is where we teach participants to accept the fear factor of winter and try to desensitize them to it. In an idea we picked up from watching “Clockwork Orange” where we tape participants eyes open and for twenty-four hours show them nothing but old news weather forecasts where the doom and gloom of an impending storm is predicted. Then we show them the aftermath of the same predicted storm where they come to realize that it is often never as bad as predicted.
Next we gather the entire group together as one for a day and let them do what they would as if they were home and with their own families. Once they are settled in in their warm and cozy environment, we suddenly turn off the lights and heat and Internet and make them stay in the room with each other for twenty-four hours.
This may seem like cruel and unusual punishment, depriving them of their television, iPhones, tablets, video games and other diversions and forcing them to actually talk with each other, but it is one of the harsh realities of a real winter. It is especially hard on the thirty and younger crowd.
One day of the program we will bring them to the local supermarket and train them in the “bread and milk” segment of the course. This is where we bring in experts to show them how to best maneuver the aisles and how to come away with the essential foodstuffs they will need to survive the possible twenty-four hours they might be homebound if a real storm arrives. Besides bread and milk, we will show participants how to position themselves to score Cheez-Its, Chocolate Chip Cookies and other essentials which will be in high demand.
There will be an exercise portion of the class where participants will spend ten minutes on and ten minutes off with a handgrip attached to a pulley which will simulate the snowblower which suddenly won’t start now that the snow has fallen. By working these muscles now, it will keep them from the day after muscle soreness which is attributed to this procedure.
Walking properly on an icy surface and even the correct winter greetings to natives (believe it or not “Cold enough for you” is not always proper) are among a few of the other valuable lessons that we teach in the course.
If you are interested, there are still openings for our late February class (weather permitting).
If you’d like more information or to sign up for FATSO’s winter survival class go to our website.
Brendan Smith welcomes your comments at email@example.com.