The temperature today is 24 degrees above zero. It feels bitterly cold to all of us here in the DC region. I include myself in that “all of us.” I’m no longer used to the sharp bite of cold. But I used to know cold. For ten years I lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
I remember my first experience of extreme cold. I was 23 years old and working for the agribusiness, Cargill. (I assisted in creating graphics for the Seed division: Corn. Soybeans. Wheat. Sorghum. Sunflowers.)
I will never forget the first day that the temperature dropped to 18 degrees below zero. The radio broadcasted warnings: Do not go outside with your skin exposed!
I was grateful my car started, especially since I parked it on the street. The windchill meant that the temperature felt like 35 degrees below zero. That kind of cold assaults your cheeks and chokes off your breath. My car never did warm up. I drove to work in a state of shock.
I clearly remember parking the car in the parking garage, turning the engine off (while wondering if I would be able to start it again), and walking to the garage’s elevator. When the door opened, the elevator was full of people wearing fur-lined parkas with scarves wrapped around them. Everyone was staring straight out the door and no one said a word. (In Minnesota it is more normal to greet other human beings, whether or not you know them.) I got on the elevator and faced the door, like everyone else, mummified in my layers.
I wanted to jump up & down & scream: WE ARE ALL CRAZY!
Yes, sometimes on a cold day like today, I smile as I remember that.