The cold this week is brutal. The temperature has been around 0F (-20C) for several days, and we have a few more to go.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s just an hiccup in the Jet Stream that points a small piece of it straight down from the North Pole, a 100 mile per hour artic express aimed right at Minnesota. It’s nothing unusual, and it happens frequently at this time of year.
To tiny humans, it’s a battle of endurance. Every small step outside for any reason requires preparation and fortification. We have to be ready for this. This is the kind of cold that hollows out your nose as if it intends to live in it forever. This is the cold that pulls every muscle in tight as one shiver slowly ravages every part of your body. This is the cold that fires up the inner reptile, deadly afraid of this cold, where the fight-or-flight instinct resides. This is the cold that becomes you in every way possible.
The biggest problem that I run into is one of attitude. When the world closes down to four walls, it’s only a matter of time before my thinking is similarly boxed in. Panic is the first sign of a need to escape, a deep depression the first sign it’s too late. What can I do about it?
The short answer is along the lines of, “What would Pa Ingalls do?” We have tamed nearly every danger that they had out on the prairie from his day except for one – the brutal cold. And Pa Ingalls made it clear that you deal with cold by being ready for it, both logistically and mentally. You accept it as a reality, and go on. This is the way it is. What else is there to do?
Ah, yes, the Winter Carnival. It’s that time of year in Saint Paul, and we enjoy our outdoor ice sculptures and so on. We keep doing this every year because it is more than an excuse to get outside – this is a way to conquer the fear and bad attitude that naturally comes with brutal cold. Perhaps that isn’t exactly what Pa Ingalls would do, but the state of mind is something he would recognize. It’s cold, deal with it.
In a few more days, I may be ready to deal with it. Right now, I have too much work to do. I just need to get it done before the depression part sets in, or some other kind of madness. It’s good to be inside and hunkered down by the warm glow of a computer’s CRT. Did I mention how cold it is outside?