Friday, January 16, 2009

For the Record

Yep, that's my thermometer. -18°F. No, it's not broken — I took a quick shot of it on my out the door to walk to work. It's the coldest temperature I have ever seen in the 15 years I've lived in Winona Lake. Come to think of it, it's probably the coldest I've ever seen, anywhere. And just last week, I was thinking that it never got below zero around here. Hah!

As I shuffled down the squeaky-snow-covered sidewalk, one of my neighbors stared at me, wide-eyed, and motioned that I should get in the car with him. He looked genuinely worried about me. I'll be fine, I said. Besides, I already knew that one of my co-workers, Amy, was hurrying through her morning routine with plans to track me down and give me a ride lest I end up walking all the way. She did find me, standing knee deep in the snow along the bank of the lake, taking several photos to stitch together later into a panorama. When we got to work, she pressed her car keys into my hand and ordered me to take her car if I needed to go anywhere during the middle of the day. That actually turned out to be a very good thing, considering that Deborah needed to go to an appointment later, and all of our cars were marooned in one way or another.

That night, as I was heading home — it had warmed up to a comfy -4°F — I noticed that the air tasted sweet. I'm not sure what to make of that. One of our friends, Julie, said that she tasted it, too. I've always heard of 20° and below described as "bitter cold" — but this was anything but. Maybe once you get below zero, it starts getting "sweet cold." I wonder what temperatures we'd assign to salty, sour, and savory/umami?


Carolina Kerr said...

Maybe Marty had something to do with the cold. She was saying when she came down from Alaska in November that it couldn't get cold enough for her so far south. It looks to me like Indiana is pulling out all the stops to make her feel at home. Will it be enough?

Jonadab said...

I believe the coldest I ever saw in Indiana (that I was old enough to remember) was in early 1994. They were talking about the cold air currents coming down from the northwest (as they are wont to do from time to time), and how the temperatures in Alaska were so cold automobile tires were shattering up there. It didn't get that cold in Winona, but they did cancel morning classes one particularly cold morning (so of course I took the opportunity to run all around campus catching up all the errands I wouldn't have been able to do while I was in class (going to the financial aid office, the business office, and I don't remember where all). In Ohio, my parents' best car (ever; specifically, the white '87 horizon) burned that morning, apparently because something was frozen that shouldn't have been, and they started it up and left it running to warm up for a couple of minutes... oops. Somewhere I probably still have the melted piece of it they gave me as a momento.

Of course, I lived in Michigan during the winters of '87, '88, and '89, and I'm pretty sure it got down to about this cold a few times up there, but I don't remember any specific occasion.

My mom would tell you about '79, when the pipes froze in our apartment on Terrace. (You know those really big houses, between Rodeheaver and where the BST used to be, that some investor bought, renovated, and made all fancy a few years back when you were in or just out of school? Those were divided up into a bunch of apartments at the time, no fooling. A lot of seminary students lived in them, because the rent was cheap, and there were rather a lot more students in the seminary back then.) But I don't remember much about the weather from that era, since I was pretty young.

Jonadab said...

Update: mom says the cold snap was '77 (the year before the blizzard), not '79 (the year after), like I was thinking.

Speaking of which, if you've never got the locals around Winona to tell their stories about the blizzard of '78, you should some time.

Andy said...

You know, I was wondering if Martha had something to do with this, too.

I arrived in august of of '94 so apparently I missed the previous Big Chill. I have heard stories about the blizzard, though, something about eight foot drifts.

We're probably due for another big blizzard anytime now.