When it comes to brutal winter weather, one can embrace it, endure it or leave. Those who choose to embrace and endure call themselves things like the “Frozen Chosen” and remind each other that at least the mosquitoes and summer people are gone. The residents of Frostbite Falls will talk back to the television, saying, “That’s nothing!” when they see a national news story about a major city suffering through a cold snap. The good folks of Hypothermia Junction never see themselves on the national news when it’s cold there, because it’s always cold this time of year.
Impressive, deep cold makes for good chit-chat at the local news desk, and it might get a shudder from the network morning show weather guy, but otherwise no one pays much attention. Images of under-dressed commuters sliding into ditches or hustling along at the frosty base of a skyscraper canyon elicit sympathy, but scattered, small communities dressing warmly, maintaining their vehicles, driving sanely, and not complaining don’t make compelling TV.
Occasionally, someone will say to the Frozen Chosen, “I don’t know how you can stand it!” The Chosen will look at how that person is dressed and wonder if he can survive the trip back across the parking lot, where his car sits idling, tucked in among the snowmobiles and pick-ups with plow blades. Then they’ll go back to planning moonlight snowmobile rides and ice-fishing derbies.
Scurrying from warm place to warm place, with an occasional blast of cold is the way most people experience winter weather in their daily lives. They huddle indoors, hurry to their cars and scoot quickly across parking lots to get indoors again. Occasionally, they might take a short vacation to ski, hitting the slopes in new winter outfits that wouldn’t last until lunch milking cows. Or plowing roads or fixing power lines. We forget that there are people out there, spending their days and nights fighting frostbite and fatigue, making sure there are warm places to scurry between and that there is heat, light and food when we get there.
We complain and say something must be done when the power goes out. We feel inconvenienced when our trip to the store was difficult because the roads were a mess. But the power does come back on and the roads do get cleared and we can get our coffee again because someone is out there, working in weather the rest of us hide from. My hat would be off to them if it weren’t so frickin’ cold.