Thursday, December 18, 2008

And How Cold Is It?

I read h20phobic's blog this morning. She's from Montana and she think's she's SO smart today because her thermometer read 16 degrees ABOVE zero this morning. Mine said 12 BELOW when I got up. My only consolation is that maybe her tropical weather will head this way (crossing fingers and toes and eyes).

Okay - so it's not officially winter yet - but it's right around the corner. Heck, in many places, it's around the corner and halfway down the street!! But I guess it could be worse. When you're outside bashing and bloodying your knuckles while you try to scrape the ice off your windshield at oh-dark-30, just keep telling yourself how very lucky you are. Why? Well, you know, you could be living in Frostbite Falls with me where there's a good chance it's about 40 degrees colder than wherever you are.

Big deal? What's so special about Frostbite Falls? Well, I'll tell you. There's some pretty special people that live up here. You gotta be pretty darn tough to survive living on the edge of the world. How many towns do you know where people leave their cars running all night long so they'll start in the morning? Everybody around here has a snowmobile just to ensure that they won't get cabin fever during "weather episodes" like we had last weekend. You notice we call them "weather episodes" not blizzards. The word Blizzards would only scare folks away. And we have to increase the population up here somewhow, or at least keep it stable. Anyway, most people put more miles on their snowmobile in a year than they do on their cars. Some folks have been known to build a fire under their tractor so it will start so they can move enough snow to get out of the driveway (snicker - I think we know him, don't we?)

Have you ever wondered what it's like to drive a vehicle in the winter in Frostbite Falls? First of all, you crawl into the car or the truck (most folks around here have 4-wheel drives - for safety purposes you know) and the springs in the seats are so stiff that it feels like you're sitting on a piece of plywood. Not much give there when you hit a bump. And if you've got vinyl seats - Woo - Hoo - that's like having to make a trip to the outhouse and sitting down on that frostcovered hole!! When you manage to get your transmission shifted into gear and take off down the road there's this strange whump-whump-whump sound coming from the tires because they're actually flat on one side from sitting in the cold overnight. The ride is just a bit rough for the first few miles.

I remember having a car that the speedometer cable froze up on, it made loud grinding noises and then broke. Don't go through a carwash on an extremely cold day - windshields have been known to break when the warm water hits them. Ole's steering wheel cracked one morning when he grabbed it to pull himself into the seat.

Ole had a super-soaker once. You know those great big squirt guns that kids used to have and you'd pump them up to make them squirt? Well, one day he filled one up, opened the shop door and let 'er rip. The gun shot the water out all right because it was warm inside the shop, but the water went up in the air about 10 feet and immediately turned to ice crystals. You could hear it tinkle as it hit the ground.

If you're venturing outside during one of our "cold snaps," especially at night, you can hear these exploding noises coming from the trees, particularly the evergreens. The sap in the trees freezes and splits open parts of the trees. When you're house starts groaning and cracking and snapping you know it's really cold out. One night I woke up with a start because I heard an extremely loud bang. I thought someone had driven into the side of our house but it was just the cold temperatures contracting the wood.

And if you're out walking in the snow when it's REALLY cold the snow squeeks with each step. It sounds like it's crying out in pain. You most certainly couldn't sneak up on anything or anybody when the snow squeaks so loud.

Now up here in the Northland people do a lot of ice fishing in the winter. There's a lot of vans and pickups that are used to plow snow off the lakes so the fishermen can get to the ice houses. They adapt the vehicles to this special task by simply cutting a hole in the top and covering it with a piece of canvas. Why, you ask? So the driver can escape if his truck goes through the ice and the doors get pinned closed. No lie (snicker)!!

And most importantly for all you novices that don't know how to deal with REALLY cold weather - make sure you wear gloves when you're pumping gas because human flesh can freeze fast to the gas pump handle in a very short period of time.

Now, granted, these things don't happen when it's *only* 12 below like it is as I write this, but when the temps get down to 20 below and colder, as it does commonly here in the winter - then you better be careful.

From your friend with icicles hanging from her nose,



Anonymous said...

purple chai/oldewoman:

I wouldn't last five minutes there.

Anonymous said...

It's 21 degrees in Minneapolis right now. Heatwave!!!!!!

Marge said...

And now we sit here waiting for the next "weather episode." But if we get 8 inches of snow, the temps should let up a little. Only problem is, as soon as this one passes we get another
"episode" on Saturday. Possibly the biggest so far.

Aren't we lucky we live in Minnesota! I love it!

capitolady said...

WE were -20 for one day, Since I am happily not working at the moment, I didn't leave the house. It was an igloo on the windows though..

Your description makes happy to be in the tropics...

btw, I noticed your feed says I am in gettysburg.. Not!

Yvonne said...

And who says Hell is hot! LOL

Carolyn said...

Our heat wave came and went. It's -18 again! Grrr! So much for Global Warming.