Emmaville Store, circa 1969

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Its Squeaky Cold Out There

Here in Emmaville, the mercury, or whatever the red stuff is in the thermometers these days, is hiding out in the bottom bulb and won't come out.

This time of year, you squeak when you walk on the snow.  Cars make weird animal noises. They growl and groan like polar bears looking for a meal as they pull into the parking lot.  Backing out again, their wheels cranked, they mimic screech owls. Meanwhile, the real animals are quiet.  While humankind's machines protest, nature is silent.

Most Minnesotans don't mind the cold. We bundle up and get outside to get our work done or enjoy our favorite winter sport.  We can almost ignore the cold when we're prepared for it, feeling comfortable being outside even when the temperature approaches zero.  Some of us even welcome it, savoring the change in seasons, the circle of life, the existential meaning of the winter solstice, etc., etc.

But this cold is different.  This is squeaky cold.  It confronts us when we step out the door, daring us to take a breath.  There is no getting used to squeaky cold.  It presses in on all sides, looking for a way past our defenses.  We pull our zippers up until they pinch our necks and tug our hats down tighter.  Within minutes our faces sting, our fingers become useless and our toes feel like they're going break off.  This cold tells us we don't belong out there.

We usually relish these clear, cold days because the sun is out. The light, however faint and short-lived, is inviting and makes for pretty snow scenes. But when its this cold, squeaky cold, the sun seems to barely escape the horizon.  The sun is like a sick friend, peaking out of the covers, promising to get stronger, assuring us he'll be back to his old blazing self soon.  We pray for a miracle recovery.

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