Cold Weather Stories


Cold weather stories have a certain pedigree shared with the Burlington Liars Club. Something to cold weather wants us to lie to a point just short of eternal damnation. Among farmers there are kindred categories of this same temptation, hundredweight per acre comes to mind, how many heads that calf had back in 1954. Along with how good the mileage was for a straight-six Ford with a Zenith carburetor that wasn’t very good straight out of the factory, so everybody knows you’re lying. Doesn’t matter, it’s just another Zenith carburetor lie.

Lying comes more naturally to men than it does women because men also fish. To the end what they perceive as a whopper may not be so big given standard weights and measures. There is probably no need to push the measure of a slimy reptile any farther than this illustration.

The average person doesn’t lie about how hot a summer gets, but this same temporal Christian will lie through their teeth about how cold it got last winter. There is no good explanation for this, never mind an attempt needs be made. Heat as an act of nature is basically open-ended. The Kelvin scale of temperature has a bottom temperature, specifically minus 459.67 degrees Fahrenheit. At 0° Kelvin the universe comes to a dead stop; protons don’t move, electrons don’t orbit, neutrinos don’t do anything, Higgs- bosons don’t even vibrate. The whole she-bang comes to a grinding halt at zero Kelvin. The light goes out, the murmurs cease, whispering stops. The universe is toast, no butter, no jam, plain toast.

On the other hand, hot goes to 1.41679 x 1032, a.k.a. the Planck temperature. When it comes to antic the universe seems to have no good limit on zeal. If you thought a wood fire is hot, a volcano is hotter. If you thought the volcano is hot, the meteor is hotter, the sun hotter than that, the white dwarf hotter yet. If you think it’s hot to burn hydrogen, try helium, then carbon, then iron, after that there is the black hole.

You cannot buy a thermometer at Frank’s Hardware that covers the range of hot available to the universe, but you can get pretty close to absolute cold. My thermometer on the porch post reads to –50 degrees F. In my life experience it has never buried at the bottom of the bulb but it came close. My thermometer doesn’t come close to registering 1032 degrees, but absolute cold is only another two or three inches down the scale.

I do not know why I should lie about how cold it got last night. Except to underwrite and profess that people who live in cold climates are better human beings than people who can’t abide cold weather. This axiom is known to science. People who live in warm climates are basically immoral. It is rare that a citizen of a cold climate is a true communist, or thinks the welfare state is a good idea. This is because cold climate people die outright if they don’t do something useful, whereas people who live in Las Vegas or Phoenix or Miami can linger for months, even years while doing next to nothing at all. In warm climes the caloric requirement to live is so low people can coast. Cold climate people can’t coast. You can be homeless and barefoot all year in L.A. and it doesn’t matter. In Stevens Point, or Chicago, or Des Moines it doesn’t work this way.

As still doesn’t explain why people lie about cold temperatures. Except that cold provides the venue, more precisely the cause. As is established, cold weather makes people good in most aspects of morality including the Ten Commandments. First because you are unlikely to get naked in winter, as instantly reduces the sin quotient by three quarters. Cold requires a supply of firewood as means an instant work ethic. Cold weather makes people hungry for specific kinds of food. Solid sober foods; cold weather inspires good cooks; cold weather augments sleep habits. Anybody can drive a car on a dry, warm road like as not with the top down and semi-naked. Cold climates are not for lazy people or else they are soon after dead and deservedly so.

Cold weather is by extension a reliable marker of human evolution. Just being alive where it is cold means you are a better person than somebody who can go to work in pajamas or sweat pants. Same people who have never started a car at minus twenty with a battery that ought have been changed out in August. Cold climate citizens are prayerful by nature, meditative by instinct, mindful of fragile things, like the cranking amps remaining in the battery.

In a cold clime you can be down-wind of a chimney puking out noxious hydrocarbons of birch bark and think it’s darn wonderful. In a hot clime that same smell will cause you to call the EPA about a clean air violation. Cold climate people forgive easily which isn’t necessarily good for air quality.

Northern persons lie about cold weather. If the thermometer says minus ten they report minus fifteen. If it says minus twenty, make that twenty-seven. They tell anybody who wants to know it was minus twenty-seven last night. For some this is like saying Chernobyl just puked over your entire state. They instinctively stay away. Which explains everything.