Coldest Place on Earth

Winter is winding down. We still have a foot of snow on the ground and the driveway is still covered in ice but the sun has warmth again and the forecast for the week ahead is starting to lean toward spring temperatures. I suspect by this time next week we will have a whole different landscape out the window.

Looking back I think it’s been a great winter-y sort of winter. We are not blessed here in southern Wisconsin to have winters that automatically come with piles of snow and cold weather but this year we were. Of course this year we also had, according to our school’s superintendent, “an unprecedented amount of snow days” and some people didn’t really like that. Other people complained that they ran out of places to put snow along their driveways and sidewalks, I guess they didn’t like that either.  Still other people liked to share the shocking fact that for a bit it was colder here than in Antarctica (of course it was summer in Antarctica, but people using that phrase don’t like when that is pointed out to them). In any case it was undeniably cold here, the weather powers-that-be called it a polar vortex.

I liked to call it real winter but that made people want to facewash me in that lovely winter snow. Fortunately for me, those were also the people who didn’t want to follow me outside into the cold and snow so I was pretty safe. And yes, it was super cold, like pipe freezing cold and “Wow, let’s use the infrared thermometer to take the temperature of the toilet seat because I think my butt is freezing to it” cold.  One could be upset by that or you could just relish in the fact that taking the temperature of the bathroom floor vs the toilet seat vs the living room floor vs the woodstove is a fun game to play with the infrared thermometer you always wanted but never needed. Of course that’s just inside the house, the real fun was outside.

Going outside when the windchill drops to 40 below (for my international friends that’s the same in Fahrenheit and Celsius) is an adventure. There are layers and layers to put on and eyelashes try to freeze together and your boogers certainly freeze inside your nose and if you spill water on yourself while hauling it to poultry it freezes solid before you get inside and, if you really get a good gust of wind on your forehead, the cold can cut through all your hats and layers and give you an ice cream headache just from standing in it.

It’s amazing when it gets that cold!

Reading back on that I fear I have failed to relay the amount of fun that is. Maybe you have to be a certain kind of person to find the fun in just being when the air makes your face hurt. But what can I say, I’m that person.

My (possibly weird) love of the cold is not the point though. The point is, it was quite cold and wintry here.  However as cold as it was outside, I maintain the odd truth that the coldest place around (certainly colder than Antarctica was this February) are gas station bathrooms. How they manage to keep their water running at such frigid temperatures is clearly some form of gas station magic that us mere mortals are not privy too. As much time as I spent outside in the “dangerously cold” weather I was never as cold as I was in a gas station bathroom. In fact I’m willing to put forth the theory that it’s possibly the weathermen had it wrong and this “polar vortex” situation was really just what happens when too many gas station bathroom doors open simultaneously.

How about you? Were you any place colder than a gas station bathroom this winter?

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Learning to Love Halloween

Here in Wisconsin with Halloween falling at the end of October, last night’s evening of trick or treating in the 50’s was down right balmy. In this fine state, it’s good to be a gorilla for Halloween, a full-sized bag of M&M’s would work nicely or if you dressed as the Abominable Snowman in his best rain gear, you’d be set for a night out trick or treating in Wisconsin – no matter what.

Of course, my girls have never wanted to be any of these things.Clara, Jane, Ivy and Storm

Which means that every year, (in the last frantic hour of leaving the house cause that’s how we do things around here) I’m promoting layers under costumes and (on exceptionally cold years) jackets over them. Last year, I gave up, threw my hands in the air and John and I just showed all the concerned parents that we did, in fact, have warm clothing and shoes for our poorly clad children… whenever they were ready for it.Jane and Ivy

This year, they did better (perhaps last year’s cold toe memories did some good?) and when I talked up the benefits of layers under costumes, I was at least partially heard, some layers were added but, of course, not quite as many as were recommended…

And so, last night, while following chilly children down the sidewalk, I decided I had it all wrong. I’ve always hated Halloween (except for those tiny Milky Way bars) but I should love it. Because Halloween is the ultimate “I told you so” holiday for mothers. Not that I would stoop so low as to look my darling, freezing children with their shivering buckets of candy in the eye and actually form the worlds “I told you so.” (I mean, I do want them to share those tiny candy bars.) But I do believe at least one “Cold? Reeeaaally?! Huh.” may have escaped me.Jane

Eventually Glinda the Good Witch and I retired to the warmth of the truck, (those of us who live in the country have to drive into town to go trick or treating) which may have been because she was cold, though I suspect that was only a ruse (that girl is Elsa through and through and the cold has never bothered her anyway) and that the real issue was the miniature zombies in the dark. Tiny people dressed as zombies are terrible, please don’t let anyone convince you otherwise, and I was happy to sit in the warm truck with her away from those little, creepy, candy collectors.Jane

Now, I’m sure you are concerned about my mini candy bar collection with one kid out of the trick or treating. Thankfully our Wicked Witch of the West was not so wicked after all. She, the shyest of all, spent all night asking if she could take a piece of candy for her little sister and returned to the truck with an overflowing bucket for the good witch. And, luckily for me, her little sister is very good at sharing.Clara

This morning I’m thinking that Jane’s got the right idea. Next year I’m going to promote a Tinker Bell costume and make sure to casually mention that no one will ever know who she is if she wears a jacket over the top of it. Of course then the many suggested layers will be refused and when she inevitably becomes chilly I’ll still be able to roll my eyes in the dark, think a satisfying, “I told you so” and hide in a nice warm truck. As long as her sisters continue to be so generous we will even have a nice stash of Milky Ways at the end of the evening.

Perhaps I could learn to love this holiday after all.

Still Chilly!

Below zero is too chilly to get a clear picture out the open window. The heat from the house causes the air to shimmer and everything looks a bit fuzzy. Unfortunately, while I like playing outside in the cold my camera and it’s battery seriously object to such treatment. I suppose in theory a person could have a really clean window and shoot from inside – however this is a theory I have been unable to test. But fuzzy issues and all I just can’t resist sharing this cold, grumpy looking sparrow!

sparrow stylized

I changed this from the original photo I posted. This one has gone through much photo shop doctoring with the intent that it looks more like a painting.

Thank you for all the well wishes on my Clara induced injury it’s getting better everyday!

I Love it!

I have already irritated countless friends, relatives and strangers at the grocery store with my happiness but I just can’t stop myself. Every time I hear a complaint about the weather it just bursts out and I am compelled to announce to everyone that-

I love this winter!

It’s been cold!  Real cold, the kind that makes your cheeks sting, the inside of your nose freeze and your eyelashes freeze together. We live in Wisconsin-winter should be cold.

I love it!

It’s been snowy! Every few days we get another inch or so. I would of course be happier if we got eight inches instead of one but I’m not going to complain because it’s beautiful. Waking up to snow coating the world -it’s a special winter magic.

I love it!

Which brings me to another thing I love. In the winter I can see the sun rise and not hate the entire world. Tomorrow the sun will rise at 7:20. That’s not my favorite time but I do recognize that it is a reasonable time to be awake. Sunrises are pretty when they are illuminating fresh snow and you don’t hate the world.

I love it!Winter sunrise

Please don’t hate me for saying so but this winter – I just love it!