YOU call this a winter? Phoof, this is a pink-tea...

salmagundi

March 03, 1994

YOU call this a winter? Phoof, this is a pink-tea experience. It pours, yet -- it's not even iced over. You want winter? Try 1658, when Charles X of Sweden crossed an arm of the Baltic to Denmark, "with his whole army, foot and horse, followed by the train of baggage and artillery."

Or how about the successive winters of 1432, 1433 and 1434, when "it snowed 40 days without interruption. All the rivers in Germany were frozen, and the very birds took shelter in the towns."

The authority here is "History of Excessive Winters," an 1852 article in Graham's Magazine, which, found by Lun Harris, has been circulating in Bolton Hill. Nearby, how much ice has there been on Jones Falls? "In 1236, the Danube was frozen to the bottom."

The Thames in 1603, as pictured in the recent movie "Orlando," was quite safe to walk or skate on. But 1709's was the "famous winter," in which "all the rivers and lakes were frozen, and even the seas, to the distance of several miles from the shore."

Still better, anecdotally, was 1716, when "on the Thames, booths were erected, and fairs held. The printers and booksellers pursued their professions upon its surface." Or how about 1755, when "in England, the strongest ale, exposed to the air in a glass, was covered, in less than a quarter of an hour, with ice an eighth of an inch thick"?

Nothing in these accounts about fractures, sprains and dislocations; perhaps they were overshadowed by 1067, when "most of the travelers in Germany were frozen to death on the roads."

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