Because life is a series of edits

The Comfort of the Cold

In Places & Spaces on February 8, 2007 at 2:00 am

Like most of the country this past week, it's been cold here in St. Louis. But while I'm no polar bear, I haven't minded the barely-above-zero temperatures. Granted, we live in a house with a brand new furnace and have running hot water that makes a shower the highlight of the morning. But this is what I remember winter in February in the Midwest feeling like, and the familiarity is nice.

It's nice because it hasn't been this cold for this long in a while. Maybe global warming is the real deal or maybe the earth is just being the earth; I don't know. Regardless, it's been 15-20 years since I can recall a really frigid winter, and the constant low temperatures have triggered a weather-induced personal nostalgia I've been enjoying these past few days. Some memories:

  • Sitting in the back of a farrowing stall in a drafty barn with my dad, "catching" new-born pigs as they were born and making sure they got under the heat lamps to survive the bitter north wind trying to get at them.
  • Sledding with my two younger sisters down the big hill across the road from our house (back then, we used to get actual snow with the extreme cold). On one run, I went down headfirst at a pretty good speed, but then came face-to-face (literally) with a big ledge of solid ice jutting up from the snow when the runners on my sled stuck (the blood was amazing).
  • Building a fairly elaborate snowfort in the five-foot-high snowdrifts along the banks of our gravel road (which no one was traveling on because of the ice), I spent hours in my igloo bunker, outlasting my sisters who eventually went inside where it was warm, leaving me as king of my domain.
  • Coming to St. Louis for my first and only then-Cardinals football game against the Washington Redskins at old Busch Stadium. I couldn't feel my feet for hours after the game, as open concrete stadiums don't exactly generate or hold heat very well.
  • Later, when I was in college and in Marching Mizzou, I remember playing a half-time show at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City and being so unbelievably miserable holding a brass trombone in the midst of 10-degree weather with sleet coming down. While I had on about eight layers of clothes (so much so that I looked the Michelin Man and could barely move), we weren't allowed to wear any kind of coat or poncho on top of our polyester uniforms for the sake of aesthetics (as if polyester has aesthetics). This was easily the coldest I've ever been.

I guess what I'm saying is that the last time it was this cold for this long, the world made a little more sense than it does now, if for no other reason than winter was winter and it was supposed to be cold. Now folks are so freaked out by the fact that winter is cold again because over the years it hasn't been, and it just feels wrong (or at least not quite right).

It's February, folks – it's supposed to be cold. Dress warm and live it up, as there's not a lot in our postmodern world today that's supposed to be anything anymore.

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