I mentioned last week that -3 Fahrenheit doesn’t seem that cold to me anymore. Well, this week it got colder. The coldest it’s been in Wisconsin in more than two decades, the coldest temperatures I’ve ever experienced. When I walked home from the gym on Wednesday it was -22F. That, reader, is cold. You don’t notice it for the first few minutes because you still have residual heat in your body from being inside. But at -22F your fingers start to get cold and numb inside your gloves and your toes inside your boots. My walk was about ten minutes. I could have handled twenty. But probably not thirty.
Tired of winter? You wouldn’t have to be if you lived in Madison. It’s spring here, by mayoral decree:
Whereas, the winter of 2007-2008 will go down as one of the most severe in Madison history with record snowfall, strong winds, freezing rain, below zero temperatures and now on top of it all Brett Favre retires (for cryin’ out loud); and
Whereas, these conditions make us better, hardier people of higher character than our friends who have fled to places like Florida where they can’t even get a primary election right; and
Whereas, even with those advantages, we’ve had enough already; and
Whereas, Madison has never been a community that simply accepts the status quo whether that be the results of national elections, the realities of nuclear fallout, general market conditions or, for that matter, mere astronomical forces; and
Whereas, Spring is a state of mind brought on by the thought of paddle sports and the sight of sleek new canoes and other cool canoe gear; and
Whereas, Madison has been described as so many square miles surrounded by reality; and
Whereas, Madison has been growing at a nice pace which must mean that reality is therefore shrinking; and
Whereas, reality is over-rated.
Now, therefore, be it resolved that Spring officially begins in the City of Madison at 2 AM on Sunday March 9th.
For those reading this from outside Madison, here’s some data from the Isthmus about our recent streak of bad weather. Yesterday’s 13 inches of snow was the second-highest snowfall from a single storm ever recorded here. Classes were cancelled at UW for only the third time in the last twenty years. With six weeks of winter left to go, 2007-08 is two and a half inches away from being the snowiest winter on record. (78-79 holds the current mark.) On I-90 a little south of here, just past Stoughton, somewhere between a thousand and two thousand people were stopped behind trucks that couldn’t make it up a long, low hill; the backup started in the middle of the afternoon and some people were still there at 4am. Governor Doyle called out the National Guard to patrol the edge of the highway in snowmobiles, passing out blankets and army rations.
As for me, I spent an hour this morning digging out Mrs. Q’s plowed-in car. But after I finished digging — or at least dug until I thought I was finished — her car was still stuck in the snow, wheels spinning helplessly. Fortunately, we soon saw another plow, whose driver hitched his towline to the car and dragged it out of the snowbank. This was accomplished in a manner suggesting a much-repeated task.
It’s a great and simple pleasure to be back in our house, and our regular routine, after a period of extensive and hurriedly arranged travel — between Dec 26 and Jan 18 I slept away from home 14 out of 24 nights, split between London, Chicago, Columbus, and Stanford.
Even though it’s cold. Really cold. It was minus 10 yesterday when I took CJ to daycare — that’s the coldest weather I’ve been out in since I moved to Wisconsin. For my non-Wisconsin readers, minus 10 is a little like this. Your face starts to get stiff and you find yourself unconsciously rolling your jaw around in order to keep it limber. The knob on your car radio is hard to turn, and the tape player won’t run at constant speed. You don’t have to scrape your windshield, because what snow does fall is so dry it brushes right off. But all the moisture inside the car freezes hard onto the interior windows, so you get in, start the car running, turn the heater to full blast, and start chipping — I can now do the scrape/melt combo in about 10 minutes.
This weekend it’s getting up past 30, and I, for one, have some sunbathing planned.
And now, the Tourists, featuring Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart before they formed the Eurythmics, performing their 1980 single “So Good To Be Back Home Again.”
A light snow fell all day in Madison. And it was sparkly. In the air, and on the ground, too, like flecks of mica in the pavement.
I’ve never seen snow do this. Is it because it gets so cold here? The high today was 16 degrees. I’ve heard people say it can be too cold to snow. That must be pretty cold.
Of course, I should have made checking the Straight Dope my first step. According to the all-knowing Cecil, what I saw was called diamond dust. Sources differ as to what precisely constitutes diamond dust, but it seems pretty clear it’s the stuff that sparkles when it’s well below freezing, and still snowing. Like today. Bring on April.