Thursday, February 3, 2011

It's Frickin' Freezing Out Here!

Cold is a problem. Probably not on the same level of the national debt or my continuing inability to keep my house straight longer than 12 hours, but a problem nonetheless. Really, cold in general is not awful—I like it when I find it in my ice cream, and I appreciate the work cold does to be sure I don’t drink the lumpy milk. Excessive cold is just obnoxious.

It has been about zero degrees here for the last couple of mornings. Yesterday’s high was a balmy 17º. A lot of unpleasant things happen to my body when it is that cold. For your enjoyment and comparison I present the following:

Idaho Cold Weather Advisory

Level One: Brr

25º-30º

Only bad in November. By January, heat wave.

Expect to see breath, cheeks a little chappy.

Level Two: Whoo!

20º-25º

Jack Frost is officially nipping, but a heavy jacket will suffice

Cold nose, cold ears, cold fingers.

Level Three: Shiver

15º-20º

Get some gloves and thicker socks

Cold penetrates jeans, toes begin to tingle.

Level Four: Chatter

10º-15º

Make sure you wear a real coat. Start whining.

Interior of nose is decidedly slushy. Ears go dead.

Level Five: Ache

5º-10º

Don’t leave if you don’t have to. Make kids wear snow pant to school. Consider long underwear.

Chest tightens, arms go involuntarily crossed. Head is bowed.

Level Six: Frozen Silence

Anything below zero (because once it’s below zero, who cares) -5º

Lose feeling in face. Cease respiration.

Can’t breathe through nose, snot frozen. Can’t breathe through mouth, hurts teeth. Whole body seizes up.

I had never experienced cold that makes your nose hairs freeze until I moved to Idaho. It took a couple of years, but once I was acclimated, I rejoiced with all the rest when it was 38 ºin February. 38 º! I wore a cardigan to school! My college roommates and I went to the Oregon coast for Spring Break in March one year, and we were the only ones on the beach, and we were wearing no shoes and only long-sleeve tees—it was 48 º! Last year my husband and I went to Seattle and laughed at all the people clutching their coffees and wearing hats and gloves and big galoshes and coats because it was 40 º. It was 9º at home. My point is I have a different feeling for cold. That’s why my chart begins at 30º, which is officially below freezing—it gets really cold here, and it stays cold. Last year we didn’t hit 70 ºuntil mid-June. Of course, 30 days later it was 95º, but still.

I am currently experiencing varying stages of “Shiver” to “Frozen Silence.” This is especially fun at 7 a.m. on the bus stop with my oldest. When we are officially at “Frozen Silence,” he buries his face in my chest to protect his nose (the only skin that shows) and I slowly lose my will to live. It’s not so bad later. Today we got all the way up to “Whoo!” Of course, I can’t enjoy it because I have lost feeling in the tops of my ears, but someday, in June, they’ll come back. I will then commence moaning about how hot it is.

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