This winter I dodged the brunt of it by enjoying time in NE Mississippi, but I feel for friends and loved ones experiencing this winter’s brutal cold. It meant 2-3 day school suspensions and even U.S. mail not being delivered for the first time in history in parts of seven states. However, I’ve paid my dues in many past winters in the Edmonton, Alberta, Canada area and later further north along Northern British Columbia’s beautiful Alaska Hwy.
When my two sons and I lived near Edmonton, we ice skated outside on a sunny day with no wind at -20F and soon removed our coats and felt comfortable in only sweaters. 2
Later, 500 miles further north, we didn’t have clothes dryers so hung wet laundry outside. I remember removing freeze-dried clothes from the line at -30 F, and when I tugged on a flannel nightgown folded over the wire, stared as it came off in my hands in two stiff halves.
Another cold day, the car I was driving on the Alaska Hwy. broke down between Mile 147 and Mile 109 with the daytime high temperature only reached -30F. My two U.S. city resident passengers were terrified. What to do? Afternoon light was fading, which brought increasing cold, and we were outside of cell phone range. I tucked my one blanket around my friends, prayed, and stuck out my thumb to hitchhike to friends I knew would help—if I could reach them. Several cars passed, and then a Montana-licensed pickup hit the brakes. Sure enough, the driver was a handsome, courteous, Marlboro-smoking, fringe leather-jacket, and coybot hat cowboy who drove me to my friends and stayed long enough to be sure they could solve my situation. A friend asked if he was an angel in disguise. I hadn’t pictured angels smoking Marlboros, but he met the other qualifications.
At -60 F on another sunny day without wind, I stood outside making sure our caged rabbits had food and water. I was bundled up, feeling no cold, until I removed my mitts and glove to open the wire hatch at the the cage front to reach inside. My fingers stuck to that wire like kids had fingers or tongues stick to the small ice box portions of old refrigerators long ago I tugged, lost a little skin, but pulled free, and after putting food and water inside, went back inside.
Similes try to make dangerously intense cold bearable by adding humor. I like these: It’s as cold as a murderer’s heart. As cold as a polar bear’s toenails. Colder than a banker’s heart on foreclosure day at the widows’ and orphans’ home. Colder than a metal toilet seat in an Alaskan outhouse . .
Please share your favorite—or your memory of this barely bearable winter, and have fun! This severe winter is as cold as . . .?
P.S. It’s true that throwing boiling water into temperatures of -33 F and lower produces instant snow with rocket sounds. We’ve done it often. Enjoy this link https://www.wired.com/story/the-very-vortex-y-science-of-making-snow-from-boiling-water/