Cold Snap, Crackle, and Pop.

The Northeast is in the midst of a stretch of frigid temperatures. the last few days have obliterated my hopes of a mild winter, and tonight parts of the state are expecting wind-chill temperatures of forty below. Thankfully, we’re not in that expected range, but we will hover right around zero before accounting for the wind.

At our house, we have a benchmark for telling when the temperatures go from “My, that’s brisk” to “Damn! That’s Cold!”

You see, our back deck was put together a long time ago with nails. And when it gets really cold, the wood contracts, contorts, and forces the nail heads up with an audible ‘POP!’

Sometimes, if you’re really lucky, you can go outside and hear the tree limbs exploding as the sap inside them freezes and expands.

These cold temperatures are not only uncomfortable to be out in, but they also pose a serious threat. Every year, for the last couple of years running, someone’s house burns down. Faulty heating systems, failure to clean chimneys, electrical problems….there are all kinds of factors resulting from the cold that contribute to structure fires. House fires on their own are no fun to go to in general, but in the winter time, they’re absolute hell. I remember one night, it was so cold that the helmets accumulated ice from the water spray- as much as a quarter inch of it. Hose lines needed to be left open, even when not in use, because the water inside of them would freeze. I spent an hour working on a ladder, feet from open flame- and never felt any heat. It was -20 that night, and I went through three pairs of gloves, as one would soak and freeze after a short while of using them. Tonight’s conditions are well in line with those that have seen us out on these midnight house fires in the past, so while I’ll be buried under the greatest and warmest blanket in the world, (green wool army surplus blanket) part of me will be prepared to get back up, go out, and freeze for a few hours…because that’s what happens.

Yet another reason that I cannot stand winter.

I left the local gas station with my lunch before, and it was snowing to beat the band. A mini-blizzard had blown up. It wasn’t serious, by the time I drove the five miles back to the day job, it has stopped. But the walk across the parking lot was hell, since the wind had picked up and was blasting me with the fresh-fallen snow across the face. Misery.

Right now, the clouds have gone and the sun is shining, but as soon as you go outside, your breath is stolen and the hairs in your nose begin to solidify. The eyes tear up and your ears want to chip off, and all it is promising to do is get worse for the next couple of days, so if you don’t hear from AD, its because I froze to the grass halfway between the car in the driveway and my front door. If you’re in it yourself, stay warm and stay dry. Spring will be here someday.


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