Tuesday, December 10, 2013

This cold spell isn't cool

The "cool" view from our apartment ... and this is after it thawed a little.
       We are in the fifth day of our ice-age spell here in Fort Worth and the Metroplex area and I'll be frank: I don't like it.
        Don't like cold weather, period, but especially not here in the Deep South.
        Never have liked cold weather, although my first 8 1/2 years were spent in Amsterdam, where the weather is pretty chilly for much longer than any other place I've lived. But I don't remember it bothering me all that much as a kid.
         However, it did bother my mother, who lived in Amsterdam for most of her first 35 years. She hated cold weather; I can't put it any other way. So when we moved to the United States in early 1956, to Shreveport and the Deep South, the weather suited her fine.
           (It is a wonder how my mother, with her tiny body ravaged by almost 2 1/2 years in a concentration camp, survived a couple of weeks wandering the Polish forest when she was turned loose from Auschwitz. That was in the middle of winter, and those Holocaust survivors didn't have much clothing and no shoes. But that is another story for another time.)
           Back to this past week in Fort Worth. We have ice and snow here before, maybe once a year, and it usually goes away in a day or two, and then we're back to 60-50s degrees during the day.
           This is the longest extended period of cold -- ice -- we've had since we moved here a dozen years ago. The temperature has hardly climbed above freezing. Strangely, we haven't seen any snow, although we heard some people say that there had been flurries in town, and in Dallas and Arlington.
           We spent three days practically house-bound, only  left for an hour or so a day in the apartment exercise room, and the roads finally cleared enough Monday for us to go grocery shopping -- and we needed to because our regular supplies were running low.
             Driving still wasn't easy -- the bridges were a challenge -- and that's the point here in the Deep South. We don't know how to deal with this stuff.
              People who live in areas where snow and ice are commonplace in winter know how it works, know how to handle it. Maintenance crews keep the road in good enough shape, and most people can handle their cars so that it's fairly safe.
             I have a friend from Shreveport who lives in New York City and reported on Facebook this morning that he was looking at a "whiteout," adding the comment, "Wow, it's really coming down!"
             Another friend, from Minden, La., who now lives in Kentucky and is working in Louisville this week, wrote me and said, " ... It is snowing now. Of course, this is a way of life here in the winter."
             Also saw a picture of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram sports crew covering the Cowboys' game at frigid Soldier Field in Chicago on Monday night. My old buddies looked out of their element.
             (Football in that kind of cold, on ice or snowy fields, is not my idea of fun. Don't even like watching them. There is nothing fair about the Ice Bowl in Green Bay, or the AFC title game in Cincinnati all those years ago, or Sunday's Lions-at-Eagles game in a blizzard in Philadelphia. And what if the coming Super Bowl game in the Meadowlands is like this?)
             My sister, also an Amsterdam native, lived in Louisiana until shortly after she married my brother-in-law, who is from New York. They have lived in the North for more than three decades, so Elsa is a converted cold-weather person. I don't think it bothers her like it did my mother ... or me.
             Sure, we got the occasional snow in Shreveport when I was young. When Beatrice, the kids and I moved to Jacksonville, Fla., in 1988, an ice storm hit just a couple of months after we arrived. Same when we moved to Knoxville, Tenn., in the fall of 1995, we got snowed into our neighborhood for four days a couple of months later.
              We did get several snows in Knoxville per year -- and it's kind of beautiful if you're trying to drive through the Great Smoky Mountains area, as we once did. You'd think we would have adjusted to that type weather. But, no. In fact, one of my worst nights there was when, driving home on I-40/I-75 in  snowy/icy conditions,  I was involved in about a 10-car chain wreck.
              Long story short, I skidded into a car in front of me -- got too close, didn't realize the brakes wouldn't hold -- and then got rammed from behind. And then, making it worse, I tried to pull out ... and hit a police car. Oh, that cop was not happy.
              (That wasn't my worst driving faux pas in Knoxville. On a night with flash floods in the area, I "drowned" my nice red Jeep Cherokee in knee-high water. And that's all I want to say about that.)
              Let's just say that driving in snow, or on ice, ranks pretty low on my list of things I have to do. I think I have plenty of company in this area.
              Airline cancellations and loss of power because of weather are problems everywhere, of course, but it's worse here in the Deep South because it happens so seldom.
              Here, at the first report of snow and/or ice coming in, we shut down. Schools are closed; so are many stores, and libraries, and churches. The TV and radio stations are obsessed -- obligated? -- to provide every weather detail they can offer. 
             Our world is practically paralyzed, and this week has been a nightmare of sorts. It's beginning to thaw some today and for the first time in five days, I went out and took my daily walk on the nearby streets, stepping very carefully to avoid the ice patches.
             I much prefer walking the neighborhood to an hour walking the treadmill in the exercise room. I have one word for the treadmill: boring. Good workout, though.
            However, freezing temperatures tonight means that all that slush on the roads might be ice again tomorrow. And there are reports of another ice storm moving in this weekend.
              I'm not sure. But as I'm writing this -- and I'm wrapped in a blanket, as I have been for most of five days -- it is almost 5 p.m. and I need to shut it down, so I can go watch the weather on the local TV stations.
              Get used to cold, the snow and the ice? That'll never happen. Call me a weather wimp -- it's true.
               Our high temp today was 38, which was 20 degrees below "normal," and we went down to 18 last night, which was too close to the record low for this date.
               Hey, at this point, I'll settle for 40-degree weather. Forecasts are that it might get to 50 by Friday, which is a little more like it.
              You guys up north, you can have this stuff. We've had enough. Now, I know there are more blankets somewhere in this apartment.


  1. From Elsa Van Thyn: Personally, I really love the cold, it goes with the seasons, which is the best thing of living here in the Northeast. Driving in the snow and ice will always be a challenge, but I have learned to drive slowly, try not to use my brakes in curves or turns and hope no SUV passes me, going above the speed limit. Drove up to Trenton today in the snow, it went all right until I arrived in the area and had to drive on the side streets. The snow was coming down fairly hard for a little while, but then around 2, the sun came out. Now we are scheduled for freezing temps for a few days, which is much more difficult than the snow, it is that "black ice," which is the most frightening. Also the possibility of falling on the ice becomes increasingly more of a threat. I don't bounce like I once did.

  2. From Teddy Allen: Stay warm. I hate the cold, too. 27 here today (in Ruston, La.).

  3. From Andy Sharp: Shortly after moving to Atlanta, I was offered a job at the AP office in Chicago. "It's cold there, right?" I said. "Yes," they said, "but it's a beautiful city!" I turned the job down then and there. Heck, Atlanta was cold enough.

  4. From Jim Pruett: Enjoyed your "cold weather" article. Yeah, I too have already had more winter than I am interested in.