Ted’s essays

way cool

brains requiredAs usual, I looked at the outdoor thermometer this morning.


Wow. 4.

That is pretty cold.
Huh. what’s that little mark in the corner there?
A minus sign.
OH. Really cold.

That made me reflect on yesterday evening as I drove home through ‘The City’ (Hamilton, Montana, population 4,350). Electronic signs proclaim 4 or 5 degrees (+) at 5:00 PM.

I’m wearing tights under my jeans, long-sleeve tee under my sweater with a heavy jacket, wool driving cap and lined driving gloves. The car heater is on full (but the tiny Honda CRX engine generates precious little heat – the ice on the inside of the back window never did defrost even after a couple hours of running errands). Nevertheless, I spend no extra time exposed to the weather. Walking between car and buildings makes me NOTICE the feeling of cold on my legs and very definitely feel a briskness, crispness on my face.

As I approached the grocery store I notice the attire of people coming out… The most popular accommodation for the cooler temperatures of this week seems to be a thin hoodie sweatshirt with the hood hanging down loose on their backs.

Stopped at a red traffic signal, crossing in front of me is a girl about 12 years old, adolescent thin, with light cotton tight pants that end just below her knees and a lightweight cotton knit longsleeve slip-on shirt. She walks across the road and heads uptown as if on a summer stroll… casual, no sign that this is anything other than balmy.

Goodness … do these people have jackets? What’s it take to get them out of the closet?

Ugh. Don’t ask if you don’t want the answer. I hate even writing the question for fear of tempting fate.

Happily, we have two ways of heating the house – one fully electric, one requiring no electricity. Both seem up to the task by themselves. And we do have more clothes … lots of them … quite thick and warm. That seems a much safer bet than imagining we will suddenly find our bodies adapted to it.


I know it isn’t brutally cold as in the North Dakota, Minnesota sense of things, but I am noticing the local weather report is vindicating my sense that it is truly cold outside. Check out the key words they use to describe how it feels:

Includes the cities: Hamilton, Darby

Tonight…Mostly cloudy. A 20 percent chance of snow after midnight. Bitterly cold.. Lows 1 below to 6 below zero. East winds to 15 mph. Gusts up to 30 mph after midnight. Wind chill readings 10 below to 20 below zero.

Friday…Mostly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of snow. Bitterly cold. Highs 3 to 10. East winds 15 to 25 mph with gusts to around 35 mph. Wind chill readings 20 below to 30 below zero.

Friday Night…Mostly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of snow. Bitterly cold. Lows 4 below to 9 below zero. East winds 15 to 25 mph with gusts to around 35 mph. Wind chill readings 10 below to 20 below zero.

Saturday…Partly cloudy. Bitterly cold. Highs 3 to 6. East winds to 15 mph with gusts to around 30 mph. Wind chill readings 10 below to 20 below zero.