Yikes! That was chilly! Our gizmos tell us the temperatures went down to -2 degrees here, with a wind chill factor of -19, but we were relatively warm compared to some of our neighbors who saw more extreme lows and worse wind chills. But these awful numbers lately just give folks something to brag about, ignoring the prime fact of life up here: When it gets below freezing — or even just above freezing, and the wind is blowing even gently, and you are pushing the yon side of 67 years with a pair of worn-out knees and knobby hands missing bits of fingers left behind in the blades of planers, hedge trimmers and the early-pop-top beer cans that produced an edge the masters of Sheffield could admire — it really doesn't matter how much lower it gets. When you're cold you're cold, and the rest is just the second paragraph.
So, for the record, we could hear it getting cold in the night Monday. The deck popped and creaked and the roof moaned and groaned and the woodstove chimney ticked and hummed as the big locust tree rounds jacked up the heat in a rosy inferno. At dawn the rhododendron's natural barometer looked scary; when the mercury gets down around 20 or so, the rhodo leaves curl and look like a waxy green cigar. But when it got into single digits they curled so tight they looked like long thin cigarettes. Or cigarillos, anyway.
You can tell a lot from a dog, and when Sadie, our aging French Brittany Spaniel, needed to go out to do her business, she kept looking around as if to say, "WTF?" At one point I thought she was prancing as she picked up her steps, then I realized she was trying to levitate all fours so she could do what dogs do outside without having to actually touch hard frozen miserable ground. She and I spent most of the time lying around in front of the fire, napping, stretching and yawning. As W.C. Fields observed, repeatedly, in the 1933 film A Fatal Glass of Beer, "And it ain't a fit night out for man nor beast!"
But today looks a lot better. As I write it's 17 degrees on the digital Is/Was, the sun is pouring in and they say the temp might shoot all the way up to 30 today. Good golly, I've got to dig out the flip-flops and Bermuda shorts and put on Jimmy Buffet. Have to watch out for those pop-tops, though.