Sunday, February 15, 2015

Coldest morning so far this year

Got up this morning and noticed it's 24 below zero outside. I think that's the coldest temperature we've seen so far this winter. It's not bad, especially when I'm observing it from the comfort of a warm living room with a hot cup of coffee in my hand. I have written before about the joys of living up here on the tundra, reminisced about residing in the Shoebox (aka a 12 x 60 mobile home) while relying on a homemade woodburning box stove. That's the stove that currently heats the Woman Cave when I decide to do some sewing. It does a pretty decent job of keeping the Cave warm, but back when the Cave was the back porch to that mobile home? Not so much.

In any case, if this is the coldest it gets this winter, things have been pretty mild. The week the Younger Daughter was born we were in a cold snap that had featured subzero temperatures for weeks on end. I think it was 30 below in the middle of the day when she finally decided to emerge. I went a full three weeks past my original due date. We started joking that the kid had heard the weather forecasts and decided to wait for Spring. The doctor ordered x-rays (this was back in the days before routine sonograms) and decided he'd guessed wrong on the projected arrival. When the kid emerged, however, she was 21 inches long, weighed almost 9 pounds, had a full head of hair and some really long talons fingernails, which were all pretty clear signs that, yeah, she'd spent more than the usual amount of time in the womb. The upper end of the "average" range for length of newborns in developed nations is 20 inches.

I'm not sure just how long that particular cold snap lasted, but I do recall going through amazing amounts of propane. We hadn't been able to get a bulk tank (neither dealer had one available when we set up the Shoebox that fall) and it seemed like the delivery guy was there every other day with a fresh 100-lb cylinder. It was before we built the back porch so the gas furnace was our only heat source. After we disassembled the Shoebox in 2006, it became clear why it was impossible to heat: the insulation in the walls was barely an inch thick and was not stapled in place. It was just loose batts with no backing paper stuffed between the studs. With nothing to hold it up, it probably started settling as soon as the aluminum siding went up over it at the factory in Indiana. There were gaps several feet high at the top of the walls when we pulled the paneling off. I guess the most amazing thing is that we managed to keep the interior as warm as we did back in the '70s.

The S.O. was reminiscing about the Shoebox the other day. He remembered that the first year we were in it. It got delivered and set up late enough in the fall that he didn't have time to get skirting on it. Instead, we bought a bunch of straw bales and stacked them around the exterior, Looking back and remembering what other winters were like, that may have been the warmest winter we ever spent in the trailer, probably because we didn't lose much heat through the floor.

And then, of course, there was the winter of 1993-94. I was working at Michigan Tech. We had day after day of subzero weather. We had a block heater for the car, not that it helped the battery at all. There was many a morning when I'd have to start the car (a '73 Scamp) using a battery charger. I'd be scraping frost off the inside of the windshield most of the 40+ miles to campus. The car had a decent heater, but when it's 40 below it takes awhile to get things warm. At noon, the parking lot would be full of people going out on their lunch breaks to start their cars to run them for awhile in the hopes the car would start again at quitting time. It was an adventure. In retrospect, I was insane.

So why am I reminiscing about cold, cold winters this morning? I don't know. After all, this is pretty typical February weather. It's often the month when we get the coldest temperatures, just like March is the month for really heavy snows. Maybe I've seen one too many climate change denial posts -- "the planet can't be getting warmer; we still have winter!" -- or maybe I'm just feeling relieved I don't have to go out into that frigid air if I don't want to.

1 comment:

  1. Dat's cold, as you well know it never gets that cold here, and no snow this year.


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