Monday, January 6, 2014

'Thirty Below' is just an expression...

View from our window 1/6/14
I grew up in Hibbing, Minnesota, where we expected subzero weather all winter long (and I do mean long). My mother would wake us, go down to the kitchen to start breakfast, and call back up the stairs, "Get up, and dress warm. It's thirty below!" Often, it was. Other days it might only be ten or twenty below, but you still needed to dress for it.

So "thirty below" became an expression that meant, "It's so cold your eyes will hurt." It's so cold your glasses will freeze to your face." And, "It's so cold you better hope your mittens dried out overnight."

Minus 12 at 4 p.m.
It never meant "You can stay home from school." My mother did keep me home one day, when I was in kindergarten and, I swear, the temperature was 54 below. This number is burned into my brain, and I suppose it could be the product of a misunderstanding, but who's going to argue? It was so cold that my mother, who sent me out to walk four blocks to school when it was thirty below, kept me home.

When I was in third grade it was super-cold again. By then I was walking three blocks and waiting for a school bus to take me to the Catholic school. My mom hated to have me standing out in the cold, and my dad was working out of town, so she asked the neighbor across the street if he would drive me to school. He said okay. But his car wasn't up to the weather. We chugged and lurched our way down the street with all the car's heat (which wasn't much) aimed at the heavily frosted windshield. Three or four blocks from my school the car broke down. He was so apologetic telling me I'd have to walk. But I couldn't quite believe it, and it was a while before I could move to climb out into the wind and the swirling snow. I was late getting to school, and I was so frozen I couldn't even speak to tell my teacher what had happened.

"Feels like" minus 40
I'm glad Minnesota schools are closed today, and glad most or all will be closed tomorrow. By Wednesday the high temperature here will be around zero, but it will still be well below that up north. I think about cold children, and homeless people, and folks who have to work outdoors in this weather. And I remember what a burden it was for me just to get dressed and drive three miles to work in this kind of weather, and to hike on icy sidewalks through blustering wind to get from the parking lot to my office. And I am SO GLAD I am retired and blessed with a warm, cozy house.

On Thursday morning, we get back to driving the grandkids to school. It's supposed to be 16 degrees above zero all day. That will be easy!


stephen Hayes said...

I've never experienced cold such as you describe. I can only imagine how it must change daily living conditions.

DJan said...

I think of all the animals that somehow survive these incredible temperatures. And birds! It just boggles my mind. I'm so glad they closed the schools, too. You made me glad I don't live there. Really glad.

Grandmother Mary said...

The permutations of weather change! I hear your concern about the homeless- really, how tragic. Hunker down and stay warm.

Jeanie said...

Even though it has been very cold here a lot of our news has been about the excessive cold where you are. I am glad you have the option of staying warm at home instead of being required to go out.

joeh said...

The only temperature after 10 degrees is "Stay the hell inside!"
In Jersey right now it is 20 above "stay the hell inside" but we expect it to fall to "Stay the hell inside" by tomorrow.

I can not even imagine a temperature of 46 BELOW "stay the hell inside!"

Red Shoes said...

Holy CRAP!!!!!!!

30 Below????Is that ice on the trees???


Please stay safe!!!!


Far Side of Fifty said...

It has been brutal. Today our high was -18 and it was windy. I enjoyed your memories of cold weather. We rode the bus so our wait at the end of the drive was often very cold..stomp your feet to get circulation in them cold. I think our clothing and boots are better now. I can go outside and not feel frozen, but I have a down parka and great boots and thinsulate gloves. I am happy to stay indoors too. I am sure School will be postponed tomorrow it should be:)

Rubye Jack said...

Gads, I don't know how you do it. This is why I stick to the west coast.

Unknown said...

I spent 4 years in central Maine. I've experienced -30ยบ and don't care to again. It's cold, and I didn't stay out long. I don't recall which body parts froze first.

Jeanie said...

That warm, cozy house thing is huge. It was flirting with zero when our city had its power failure over Christmas and that was a nightmare. It feels colder than I ever can remember! But I'm sure MN is colder on a regular basis. All I know is I will be glad when all this passes. It's like icicle city! Keep cozy!

Anita said...

One of the neat things about blogging is hearing about the things going on all over the country, and sometimes, the world. It's better getting a personal story from you than hearing the same thing over and over on the TV news.

We had two "stay the hell inside" days in central Virginia (borrowing this phase from Cranky. The temps were in the single digits a little, but mostly the teens. One day the wind chill was brutal.

These temps are not bad compared to what you all had. Our school kids actually had a two hour delay in the school openings! lol

Deb Shucka said...

Beautiful pictures! And a lovely post. You've made me grateful for the rain drenching the darkness outside my window.

Sally Wessely said...

That is cold! I lived in the mountains of Colorado as a teenager and it would get down to 20 below, but not 30 below. I remember some pretty cold mornings getting ready for school. I also got frost bite on my fingers walking home from school one day. My gloves were not adequate for the weather.

Your windows made for some lovely artwork. I'd just as soon not have such artwork on my windows. Stay warm!

Unknown said...

Glad that I am running a week behind schedule and that you have warmed up some. I grew up in Michigan and dealt with the cold, walking to school and the bus when it was below zero but nothing like what you dealt with. SO glad I live in southern California now. I don't miss cold!


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