It’s Cold Outside

From time to time, I like to take a break from politics and world events to sit and think about the important things in life. For instance: Have you ever noticed how they make socks inside-out? Those seams ought to be on the outside, where they won’t catch on your toenails or etch lines into your skin. And another thing: Is it crazy how saying sentences backwards creates backwards sentences saying how crazy it is?

While you’re thinking about that last one, let me tell you about something a new friend of mine from Down South asked me. She’s snowed in for the first time in her life and is suffering from cabin fever after only a few hours. “How do you Yankees handle it?”

Let me tell ya: It’s a bit of an art.

While it’s true that, yes, snow falling is one of the most beautiful things in the world to watch, and so are the flames in a fireplace, I can see why just mentioning these things won’t help out a person that isn’t used to proper winter weather. We who hail from the north understand it better because we were raised to accept blizzards as the way things are; you can’t change them, and shouldn’t want to. Once you’ve acquired this attitude, things get a lot better.

Like I say, we grew up on ice and snow. For most of us, the first lesson went like this: “Oh, no! School is closed!”

Now, I know some of you actually enjoyed school, especially when you were young, but a lot of that is not having anything to compare it to — the absence of school, for one thing. The first time you can’t go, you might still be young enough to miss seeing your friends. But compare that with the fun involved in dressing up warm and going out to build a snowman, and coming back in to hot cocoa… well, that provides a bit of perspective. Before long, you start thinking, “Gee, I hope it snows. Like, a lot!”

If you’re too old to remember school as the prison it was, the adult equivalent can be found somewhere on this list:

  • Oh, darn: I can’t make it to that party.
  • Unfortunately, with the power out, I can’t log in to my Zoom meeting.
  • How vexing; jury duty is canceled.
  • Curses! I am unable to mow the lawn!

Admittedly, there are probably those among you that enjoy going to parties; in strict point of fact I do myself… but I’m always a little relieved when I can’t go. I’m told there are also people who just love mowing the lawn. If that’s you, then I can’t help you. (Probably nobody can; there’s just no help for a person like that.)

The key is the mentality: The weather is outside your control, and this storm is definitely weather. There is nothing you can do; there is nothing anyone can do. Nobody can reasonably expect anything from you, including you. Once you’ve accepted this, there’s no guilt, no obligation — nothing whatsoever is left to weigh you down. As a result, you now have time that actually belongs to you, unlike most of the rest of your daily life. Even on vacation you’ve got itineraries; today, you have nothing. If you’re the sort who never reads because you can’t find the time — you have the time.

Of course, this is written from a perspective that, in this enlightened age, I suppose we’d best call “Prepared Privilege”. If you’re from the north, you’ve already made sure to lay in a stockpile of candles, flashlights, and maybe even oil lamps in case the power should go out. You’ll understand how to store your freezer goods (outside where it’s below zero), how to keep your pipes from freezing (keep the cold water tap drizzling — not the hot, the cold), and how to open a can without an electric appliance. Chances are good you know an alternate cooking method, a secondary heating source, and how to flush a toilet without water pressure, plus all the thousand other skills that folks from the south never had to learn… until today.

The good news for all you southerners is that, once you do learn, you won’t forget. As soon as the weather clears, you’ll go straight online to order yourself a 12-pack of tealights and some kitchen matches, and maybe even one of those old-fashioned tea pots that were designed to work with only a candle flame (hence “tealight”). You’ll get yourself some army blankets, spare batteries, and a real snow-shovel, one of the ones with a pre-bent handle to save your back, so you don’t need to rely on your dust-pan.

And then you can stow them in the back of a closet, because you probably won’t need them again this year.

In fact, their main purpose for existing is so that, one day, ten years from now, someone will see them back there and say, “Why do we have this junk anyway? It never snows down here.” You will then have the enviable opportunity to smile wisely and correct them, and tell the story of that one time…

And, if it should happen that they still don’t believe you, just call on one of us for support — one of your friends from the north. Guaranteed, we’ll back you up: “Oh, yes; got to have emergency supplies, you know. You never can tell!”

Well, I’d like nothing better than to sit here jawing, but the kettle’s whistling in the other room. I’ve got a book to read, a warm fire, and snow to watch; nobody’s gonna do it for me — and I just know the power’s about to go out any minute now. (If it doesn’t, I can give it a hand; I know where the circuit breaker is.)

Enjoy the weather, friends! Take a moment to stop and consider the important things in life.

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