… and I’m Shivering
By Jeff Salter
What I hate about the title song to the movie, Frozen, is that the heroine WANTS to “let it snow”. We’re blogging this week about traditions dealing with cold weather — whether that be the start of winter or the first snowfall. Well, since winter began (officially) a full month ago… and since we’ve already had a few instances of snowfall in Possum Trot, I guess my pontificating may seem a bit late. [That said, as I’m drafting this (on Jan. 20), we are in the middle of the first HEAVY snowfall of our season in southeast KY. So, forgive me if I ramble a bit.]
First, let me clarify what “traditions” are to me/us. There are so many variables these days – where I am, who’s here, what I’m (or we’re) doing, what others are doing, whether I’m on a deadline, how I feel, etc. – that it’s very difficult (for me) to say I/we have any traditions at all.
For example, the cold weather in Louisiana – where I spent most of four decades (or so) – was terribly unpredictable. It might be COLD for weeks and weeks with no appreciable precip… but I’d still be scraping frost from my windshield every single morning at 6:30 a.m. Hey, there’s a tradition: scraping my windshield!
I guess what I’m trying to say about traditions is: if I’ve done it more than twice, than I guess it’s a tradition. But I can’t think of many examples. Ha.
Cold vs. COLD
Depending on where you are, winter weather can be cold or *COLD*. In Louisiana, with humidity hovering around 99.9% year-round, when the temperature dropped at all, you were “freezing.” Up here in KY, where the humidity is considerably more tolerable, that same temperature might be jacket weather. As one example, yesterday (Jan. 19) when I was out running errands, it was 25 degrees but that didn’t feel any colder than 40 degrees would have felt in LA. [Of course, there was no breeze yesterday, either!] Humidity can make a lot of difference.
As a kid, teen, and young adult — I don’t recall being that averse to cold temperatures. I often wore short sleeved shirts in moderate weather. But after my year in the Arctic – yes, true story, I was stationed in northwest Greenland – for some reason, the cold seems to hit me harder. [That, and the fact that even in summer, the air-conditioning in stores, theaters, schools, churches, wherever… feels like Arctic blasts — so I carry a jacket with me all summer long.]
This is an aside, but when I worked as a graduate assistant in the Middleton Library at LSU, during the summer semester, they were fine-tuning the “campus-wide” computerized HVAC system. Brrr. They had the A/C so cold that I – quite literally – wore a zipped up “ski jacket” for my entire four hour shift at the reference desk. [This also illustrates that I truly am “cold-natured.”]
Hey, there’s another tradition — I always carry a jacket, no matter how warm it appears to be!
Anyhow, my point here is that my blood is thin, or my circulation flawed… or something. My hands and feet start freezing on Nov. 1st each year and don’t usually thaw until Mar. 31st. When I shake hands with friends in Sunday School class, they probably think my gloves are merely eccentric. Nope: it’s to keep my fingers from shattering and falling to the floor.
Of course, I’ve had plenty of experience with snow in the Arctic for a year, in Iowa for a year, and (now) in Kentucky for these past 9.5 years. [Oh, I also lived in Chicago for about two years as a toddler, but don’t remember all that much.] But among my favorite memories of snow are these two experiences:
- When I was in 4th or 5th grade in Covington LA, it snowed! Not much more than an inch or so, as I recall, but we had enough for snowball fights. Couldn’t really build a snowman, but we did manage to collect a few little piles. Tried to find a way to do some sledding, but that area was so flat only a few of the streets had any tilt to them. [Warning: do not sled in the street!]
- For my 10th grade year, we lived in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Plenty of snow. We also had hills to sled on. Built snow “forts” and had bona fide snowball fights from the two forts. Loads of fun but we stayed out so long – didn’t realize we should’ve taken a few breaks to warm up – that my clothes and shoes and gloves were soaked. By the time we finally came inside, my fingers ached and felt so numb that it seemed they were the size and maneuverability of bananas. [Hey, maybe that’s why my hands are so cold in winters now!]
As I age, I find I’m less tolerant of either temperature extremes, but I can survive a lot better being too warm than I can being too cold.
Have you got any cold weather traditions? Memories? Preferences?
[JLS # 263]