The morning after I shook my puny fist at the weather gods, the forecast for our neck of the woods came in looking like this:
It never reached minus twenty, but Boreas sure let it rip. The wind was blowing about thirty miles an hour. It was awesome, in the true sense of the term.
Things don't work like they should when it gets down to ten below zero. Two years ago, it was more than twenty-one degrees below zero here. It was astonishing. I looked out the window in the crepuscular morning light, and it didn't look like Earth anymore. There is a phenomenon called ice fog, where the air is too cold to hold any moisture whatsoever, and whatever humidity it's carrying turns to ice in the air, and looks like a snow flurry that doesn't move.
Well, ten below or so is cold enough, even if it doesn't look like Neptune's weather when you look out the rimed window. My wife's car wouldn't start, and still won't. It made a sound like a dog dying of mange while gargling with bees and ball bearings. My son and I twice tried jumpstarting it. When I compressed my gloved hand over the jumper cable clamps, the rubber insulation on the grips crumbled up and blew away. I'd only seen things crack and blow away like that during Bugs Bunny shorts. I had no idea real things could act that way. The morning of the 25th, I could swear even the Intertunnel froze here. The pixels wouldn't come through the pipes, except haltingly.
The drain of the utility sink in my workshop froze and had to be defrosted. I've been unable to get the temperature in there over 45 for a solid week, no matter how much heat I dump in, but I couldn't see a danger of pipes freezing. Of course the trap for the drain is one floor down, in the area where we stack the frozen drifters we like to collect, so it froze. We had to go down there and stand underneath it with a blow dryer like deranged eskimo hairdressers to get it going again. The weather outside is like a bookie. It's all you can do to keep up with the vigorish. The principal is out of the question.
It's been a solid fifteen or twenty degrees below average here for weeks. Around here, in January, that's saying something. The weather webpage is absurd about it. First they try to tell you the world is ending, to get your attention. There's some sort of IMPENDING DOOM banner displayed most every day, and they've taken to naming snowstorms that bring a half-inch of snow that's not worth shoveling as if they're arctic typhoons. I admit it: twenty below got my attention. Then Armageddon doesn't show up -- it was only nine below, I'm certain of this because I have a thermometer that keeps low and high readings until you reset it, and I was watching it closely. Then they pretend they never said it and keep going. Later, when no one's looking, they entered it in the record of observed temperatures as minus four -- a good, solid, roomy, well-built, gilt-edged fib, because global warming, that's why.
I said the winter was a worthy adversary the other day. I was mistaken. He's a sneaky pisser, that arctic fellow, and if you see him, tell him for me I hope he gets the blind staggers and his wife runs away with the guy that drives the firewood truck.