You may have heard it’s been cold here in Minnesota. Really cold. Once-in-a-generation cold, the weather people are saying. Winter is always cold in Minnesota, but in this age of Let’s Name Every Weather Event and news outlets demanding we heed their dire warnings, you’d think our demise is imminent. Schools have been closed for three days, stores, restaurants, and movie theaters have closed, and even the Post Office suspended delivery yesterday. Everywhere you look, cars are stalled, windows are frosted over, and bored kids are throwing boiling water into the air to watch it instantly freeze. Disclaimer: Yes, it’s actually pretty cool to watch and yes, I’ve done it.
Now, I have a dog. A Golden Retriever, to be precise, and she’s used to daily walks. She doesn’t understand Really Big Cold!, Stay In The House If You Know What’s Good For You! cold. Actually, she loves the cold, but there are limits. I’ve kept her in, mostly, for the better part of three days. She hasn’t been happy, and she was letting me know. It was time for a walk.
I feel the need to clarify. I’m not crazy. I waited for the -30F temperature and the -55F wind chill to improve to a much more reasonable -4F with -17F wind chill. (For those of you who measure temperature in numbers followed by a C, let’s just say it’s Really Cold! (See above). As a born and bred Minnesotan, though, nothing I can’t handle. I donned the snow pants, the jacket, the hat, the mittens, the scarf, the sunglasses (because yes, it’s sunny, even as a few snowflakes fly), and the boots. Really the only way you’d know there was a person in all that mess was that the blob was actually capable of some movement. And just so you don’t report me to the ASPCA, I coated the doggy’s paws to help protect them from the cold.
We’re off! The Golden Retriever is thrilled beyond belief. This is simply too good to be true! She bolts through the yard and to the walking path behind our house unable to believe her good fortune. She bounds through the snow, rolls in the snow, chases a mouse she happened upon through the snow, and eats a lot of snow. I walk. Not too bad, I’m thinking. Then I take a few breaths, as a person eventually has to do, and because the scarf is directing that breath straight upward, the sunglasses immediately fog up. This isn’t unexpected as it happens on every cold walk, but unlike every other cold walk, when I swipe the lenses to clear that fog, I’m met with ice. Yes, my breath immediately froze on the lenses of my sunglasses. Okay. Not too serious. They’re prescription sunglasses, to be sure, but I’m not blind without them and this will still work. Except that as soon as I don’t have the glasses to provide some sort of barrier from the wind, my eyes start to water. Moments after that, my eyelashes freeze together. It’s getting a little more serious. I rub and try to blink but end up just squinting through the tiny slit I can manage without ripping out all my eyelashes.
Update on the Golden Retriever: I’m watching her (through the above-mentioned slits) for signs of frozen paws. She’ll alternate holding up one paw then another when she gets too cold. She can actually get quite dramatic complete with limping and sad eyes. Nope. She’s still happily frolicking through the snow.
My nose is running now. Again, not unexpected, it is below zero and this isn’t my first rodeo, but you’d think it was since my coat pockets are empty of tissues. Alas, sniffling will have to suffice. The snow pants are new and they’re making a strange crackling sound. My old snow pants never made that sound, and I’m starting to wonder if they’ll break into pieces at any moment. I pat the pocket on those snow pants to assure myself I have my phone. I’m not sure whom I’m going to call, but it’s reassuring nonetheless. And then, more fun. I attempt to shift the scarf a bit as it’s starting to choke me and find it’s frozen to my face. Yep, right there on my cheek, a bond that I’m afraid to sever as I’m fairly certain a good chunk of skin will come with the scarf. It will have to wait until we’re home and things can properly thaw.
Speaking of home, it’s time to turn around. Seven minutes one way means seven minutes the other way. I’ve always been good at math and I know fourteen minutes is enough for today. It takes some convincing, but the Golden Retriever eventually follows me. She does a few more laps around the yard before joining me at the door. She seems pleased and I’m certain she’s forgiven me for the past three days.
I remove the layers, saving the scarf for last to be sure it’s no longer bonded to my face. I check the mirror and am quite happy that my face appears to be intact. The black drips running down my cheeks as my eyelashes thaw can be wiped up easily enough.
All in all, it felt good to get outside. I have to agree with the Golden Retriever…three days is too long to stay in the house. Hope to see you on the path tomorrow!