Wilhelm Busch’s Ice-Peter: A Cautionary Tale for Extreme Winter Weather

Once upon a time there was a day so cold that no one with any sense would go outside.  A wilful boy named Peter slipped out the front door to go skating when his parents were warming their fingers and toes by the stove.  Peter walked past the crows that froze stiff and fell out of the trees.  He ignored the old sportsman’s warning to turn back.  He laughed at the poor rabbit and sat down on a stone to put on his skates.  When he launched himself on the ice, his pants stuck to its frigid surface and tore a big hole in the seat.

He fell into a hole in the ice and managed to scramble out quickly, but not before he was drenched with water.  It was so cold on the pond that the water dribbling off his extremities immediately froze into icicles, which greatly restricted his range of motion.When the good old sportsman and Peter’s father went looking for him, they found him stuck fast to the ice sheet covering the pond.  With an axe, they chopped him free and carried him home to his mother.Peter was put near the stove to warm up, but this sensible remedy reduced the bad boy to a clear liquid that covered the entire floor. Being frugal people, his distraught parents had the presence of mind to swept what was left of their son into a fine earthenware Topf, label it “Peter” and preserve his  earthly remains between the pickles and cheese.No one needs to know what a “bomb-cyclone” is to grasp the moral of this story.  If you live in Princeton, don’t venture out on Lake Carnegie until the University posts a sign that the ice is safe.  Stay indoors and read more edifying illustrated stories by the great Wilhelm Busch about disobedient boys who richly deserved what they got.  Give his classic Max and Moritz a try.   Or you could try the new Philip Pullman fantasy, La Belle Sauvage, the first installment in The Book of Dust.   It’s a page-turner…

One thought on “Wilhelm Busch’s Ice-Peter: A Cautionary Tale for Extreme Winter Weather

  1. Every time Cotsen posts a bog, my day gets better. The timeliness of the choice makes me laugh. The visuals make me smile. You give us all a real gift. THANK YOU.

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