Around the Bluhmin’ Town
It is “Polar Bear Season” once again. Yep, that time of year when the frigid winter temperatures are causing some people (fools) to run half-naked into freezing lakes or ice-cold oceans.
Could life be so dismal in those gray, cold places that otherwise intelligent people want to do the “polar plunge?” Hey, there are quite a few folks who like to engage in this “sport” naked. No clothes plus icy water? Evidently you can become invigorated by joining the elite ranks of “polar bears.” Worldwide, there are over a million brave (crazed) folks who take these “polar dunks.” These are planned events where thousands of people will frolic together in frigid sea water!
A man emailed me to say that he joined in on the “fun” when he lived in Wisconsin. So once a year, during the first freeze after New Year’s Day, at high noon, he would make the trek into the freezing Lake Michigan waters with about a thousand other “enthusiasts.” I asked him (kidding, of course) if he suffered from mental issues. He didn’t seem amused.
There are “rules” of survival. You must wear something on your feet because otherwise they can stick to the ice. A pair of warm boots must be waiting for you when you’re done splashing around, otherwise your feet may freeze and fall off before you can walk back to your car. “Mind control” is key, to help one believe that this activity is joyful. Those “polar bears” boast it is good for their immune system and blood pressure.
I don’t get the concept, but psychologists claim that some “thrill-seekers” need to challenge themselves in almost painful ways to add zest and excitement to their lives. Why not just go to the dentist and have a tooth pulled without Novocain? Perhaps walking barefoot through a cholla patch could be the desert equivalent of a “polar bear swim.” We could have an annual ritual where thousands run barefoot in the Phoenix desert in mid-July. What could go wrong?
I know a little about cold weather, after living for twenty-six years in Ohio. Sure, folks engaged in lots of sledding and ice skating, but I recall mostly shoveling, trudging, and bundling up. I never had the urge to run half-naked into Lake Erie. Sitting through a Cleveland Browns game in the stands on a blustery day was enough misery to get frostbitten ears! Maybe the arctic blast in parts of the world causes some sort of brain-freeze. It numbs the senses, dulls the mind, clouds the judgment and results in people behaving in very odd ways.
The Dutch resort town of Scheveningen had 20,000 people in one day, merrily go splashing into freezing sea water. Maine, Wisconsin, Cleveland, Buffalo and Chicago have “dunking clubs” where thousands join in on this whacky “winter tradition.” Geez. Aren’t there other cool things to do?
We Arizonans are reasonable people. We won’t go running into freezing water. That will never happen. Unless it is summer. Because that is our “Bare Season” to do all things wild and crazy. No “polar plunge” required.
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Contact Judy at [email protected]or visit www.judybluhm.com.