We are wimps when it comes to winter.
This week’s nose-numbing, chin-chilling, pipe-busting plunge in temperatures confirmed what we already knew.
In the South, we don’t do cold weather very well.
Oh, we can do summer. Although we sweat and swear when it gets hot enough to fry an egg on the hood of a car, we can usually handle 95 degrees in the shade in July.
But when Old Man Winter allows the mercury to dip into the teens, we fret over frostbite. We worry that hell has, indeed, frozen over.
So we close schools a day early. We build fires, make hot chocolate, leave faucets dripping at night and begin every conversation with something about the weather.
“Cold enough for you?” asks the girl at the drugstore when we come shivering through the door.
A little brrrrrrrrrrisk, we reply.
Our Northern friends watch with quiet amusement whenever we shut down at the sign of the first snowflake and take pictures of frozen fountains.
Chance of sleet in the morning? It is like something right out of a disaster movie. We hurry to the grocery store and empty the shelves of bread and milk. (Except, of course, those who are gluten-free and lactose-intolerant.)
I’ve done my share of chill duty. In my travels, I’ve experienced the Connecticut Arctic, the Colorado Cold and the Pittsburgh Popsicle Climes. I once felt the wind from Lake Eerie in Cleveland cut through my bones, so I can scratch that off my frozen bucket list.
It dropped to 11 degrees in Macon last Tuesday, the coldest day in these parts since Feb. 5, 1996. For us old-timers, it brought back memories of the record-setting morning of Jan. 21, 1985, when it was minus 6 degrees. I could see my breath in the bathroom.
I also recall the last week of January 2003, when the wind chill was 3 degrees. To cheer up, I phoned a friend in Maple Grove, Minn., where the wind chill had been hovering at 30 below.
She told me every afternoon she had to warm up her car a half-hour before leaving the office. (She has since moved to Florida, where there are just as many Yankees, but at least it’s warmer.)
Our winters are typically mild-mannered. The average temperature in January is 46.5. In February, the median temp is 50. No matter what kind of text message the groundhog sends Feb. 2, we figure we can endure this sinus headache we call winter for at least another month.
It’s usually worth the wait. Macon is the prettiest place on earth in the spring.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful to live in a place where there is definition to the seasons. Having the outside thermostat set on 75 degrees year-round would be comfortable but boring.
All I require of winter is enough chill hours to satisfy the peach crop and enough cold spells to control the mosquito population. I don’t mind scraping the frost off my windshield every morning. It’s a small price to pay for not having to own a snow shovel.
And if Ben Jones and Jeff Cox want to add excitement and throw in at least one snow day, that’s OK. I don’t want to forget how to build a snowman or make snow angels. I can still remember the recipe for snow cream (sugar, milk, vanilla extract and, of course, the cold white stuff).
So give me a little freeze tease, but not a lot.
When it comes to winter, God bless us wimps.
Reach Gris at 744-4275 or firstname.lastname@example.org.