The midwestern US has its share of cold snaps, but this year was a record-breaker. On the worst day the air temperature stood at -25° and the wind chill was reported at -49°. Today, the second day of February, the weather has changed. It’s +37°, I can breathe through my nose without my nostrils sticking together, and the ice on the upper part of my windshield has finally melted. I don’t have to run out in the evening and run my car for a half hour to keep the battery charged. The monotonous scrape, scrape of snow shovels and the roar of snowblowers is suspended. It’s going to rain some time this afternoon, and I am delighted beyond words.
What have I learned during this cold snap, the worst in twenty years? I’ve learned that salt doesn’t melt ice if it gets too cold. I’ve learned that after a certain point, bundling up against frigid weather doesn’t help you any more. I’ve also learned that I am a wimp. In Siberia people live with extreme weather all winter long. They keep their cars running until spring because if the motors were turned off they would be unable to start them again. Children go to school while the thermometer stands at -50 degrees. Folks go about their normal daily business in temps that can freeze bare skin in seconds. It’s amazing what you can get used to, if you have to. But what does that make me? Lucky, yes. But a wimp nevertheless.
The next time I find myself complaining about normal winter cold, I will remember Siberia. I will try to do better, I swear—after I thaw out my fingers and unstick my nostrils, that is.