Friday, December 02, 2005

How cold is it where you are?

When I got out of bed this morning, the meteorologist on our local network affiliate informed me that the actual temperature in my neck of the woods was a whopping ten degrees, with not much of a wind chill. He turned to the anchor, who said something about its being "awfully cold out there".

This got me to thinking. When I was younger, we didn't really pay attention to the thermometer until the temperature reached a dangerous extreme. We pretty much gauged it, in the summer, as "pretty hot, don't you think?", "mighty hot", "too d*mned hot", and "Whooeee!"(in non-redneck parlance, it translates as "oy!", "oof!", or "hhhhhhh..."). In the winter, the language is equally graded: "kinda chilly, ain't it?" leads down to "a bit nippy", followed by "cold out", then "darn cold", "d*mned cold", "Holy crap! it's cold!", and, on days when whatever fluids remain inside one's nostrils freeze and the hairs up there stick together for protection, leading to "f-f-f-f*cking cold out there!", and the last... "Mmf!" (which is because the lips have frozen shut).

In my neighborhood, the last option is retained for anything more than fifteen degrees below zero Fahrenheit (actual temp -- no wind chill sissy stuff). The remaining levels are set at roughly ten-degree increments upward. I'm told, however, that up in some sections of Canada and the North Slope of Alaska, you don't reach "Mmf!" until the temp drops below minus thirty-five, and "Whooeee!" is somewhere just above normal skin temperature of a human being (72-ish degrees F.) In Florida, the reverse is true: "Mmf" happens when frost lightly touches the citrus trees, and "Whooeee!" rarely happens at all, except when it comes from the mouth of an out-of-season snowbird.

Today, the morning started out "d*mned cold", but it rose all the way up to "a bit nippy" by mid-afternoon, before the clouds came rolling over & Dad decided it was time to put into the fireplace some of the stuff mom bought at auction. I reckon the freeze will deepen overnight.

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