Whereby it is now official: After last night, I have gone out and played around in the coldest temperatures I have ever been in. Not for very long, and don’t try this at home. Last night’s -30 with windchill beat a -19 (real temperature with no wind) that I had experienced in northeast Ohio one Christmas Eve.
I learned a long time ago, growing up in Western Pennsylvania that when the temperature gets below 15 or so, skiing is very little fun, sled riding is not so great either, and the snow doesn’t pack well enough to build anything anyway. Winter hiking is okay, but not at minus anything.
The Army drill instructor gave us a conservative estimate that, at 0 degrees, frostbite will begin on exposed flesh in seven minutes. I have seen more lax figures, (like 10 minutes at minus 10) but it would seem the safer road is the better one, don’t you think? So — what does one do on a day like this, when work is canceled and there is not enough snow to play in, not to mention it would be too cold to do so anyway?
Keep the fire going. Literally, not as in the old platitude. Most of us have healthy woodpiles, if we heat with wood, after this heretofore mild winter. It’s a good time to remember that fires in the fireplace work even in the daytime.
Wonder aloud what the Plains Indians did in weather like this. My eighth-graders recently finished a project unit on Native American groups, and are fully aware that most Indians lived in wooden houses in villages, or adobe houses — but that the Plains Indians gave us the “teepee” stereotype. Which seems a lot less cozy than a longhouse or an adobe.
Draw a picture of the dragon from “Neverending Story”, for your granddaughter to color when she finishes watching the movie for the tenth time. This will only work if the granddaughter is little and likes the movie.
Make sure the birds are fed. This has the double blessing of keeping them safe, and allowing the granddaughter to watch how animals function in the winter.
Do laundry. In our house, there is always laundry to be washed, and never enough time to do it. With both adults off work, one can play catch-up on the laundry.
Make snow Ice cream. Mikayla and her auntie like to go outside, gather the snow, and make it into ice cream. This only works if the snow is new.
Watch your dogs, and others as well. One of the reasons for walking around last night was to make sure we didn’t hear any dogs stuck outside. Not that we are some kind of dog police, but we love them and worry about them, even if they are not ours. We worry about cats, too, but they don’t seem to call as loud for help if they are stranded.
Enjoy the cold. Look at it this way; you cannot change it, so find a way to make it fun.