On a December night 20 or 25 years ago, Peter and I attended a performance of Handel's Messiah at the St. Paul Cathedral. With my winter coat I wore thin gloves and dressy boots which provided no real protection against the elements. He wore a suit jacket with a sweater underneath, and no topcoat. After the performance, we got a shock. The temperature had dropped to about -25F, and the winds had kicked up something fierce. We lowered our heads and struggled three blocks to our car, periodically gasping as another gust stopped us in our tracks. That was the coldest we've ever been, and the last time we've gone so unprepared.
Years before, when I worked in downtown St. Paul, I regularly walked about four blocks wearing those same boots. My toes froze every morning and evening for weeks on end; I'm surprised they didn't just break off.
A couple of years later, on a similarly brittle day, a neighbor offered to drive me to school. By then I was going to the Catholic school across town, and my mom was relieved that I wouldn't have to walk five blocks and then wait for a bus that might be delayed. But the neighbor's car broke down six or seven blocks from my school. "Sorry," he said, and soon I was trudging through the deep and swirling snow. By the time I got there, my face was so frozen I couldn't speak.
Today I'm wiser, and much less fashionable. When it's really cold, I wear boots with lovely pile linings and with flat soles that can grip the ice. I wear earmuffs, which minimize hat hair while keeping me relatively warm on all but the most bitter days. And after years of numb fingers, this year I finally found a lovely pair of wool mittens that keep my hands from freezing, even while I shovel snow.
Now that I'm retired, I can usually stay indoors when it's ridiculously cold. At the very least, I can dress for the cold without worrying how my hair or makeup will survive, or what kind of fashion statement I'm making. And because of that freedom, I don't seem to mind quite so much.
So yes, I'm tired of winter. But our recent snow was nothing compared with what they got in Chicago and points east. Now the sun's been out for a couple of days, which never fails to brighten my mood, and they say it's going to warm up to thirty ABOVE on Friday. And the birds, like the dark-eyed juncos in these photos, continue to show us how to persist.
So things could be worse. In fact, once upon a time--and indeed, more than once--they were. That which does not kill us makes us stronger, yes?