Enter the Iceman
Today will be the coldest day that I’ve ever experienced in the Old Dominion. With lows in the single digits and wind chills below zero, Virginians are experiencing the type of weather that Upper Midwesterners have all winter, every winter.
We lived in Southeastern Wisconsin for 20 years. The first year that we were there (my wife is a native.) it was 75 degrees on Thanksgiving day. We were all wearing shorts and short-sleeved shirts. But we paid for it a month later.
On Christmas Eve the wind chill was between 80 and 60 below. Actual temperature was about 30 below. I was delegated to go downtown in Port Washington to pick up a crown roast from Bernie’s Butcher shop. Piece of cake. I left the car running and ran in to the shop. Of course, I had no problem getting a parking spot. The streets were empty. Kind of like Green Bay on Game Day.
I stopped for gas because you don’t want gas line freeze in the winter. I started the gas and hopped back into the car. So far, so good. When the car was filled up I hopped out, hung up the pump and went in to pay. I paid with a credit card and on the way to my car, maybe 30 feet, I took off my glove to put the card back in my pocket. Big mistake. My hand tingled for 20 minutes.
My next stop was the Sentry supermarket on the way home. Every car in the parking lot was running. It was a car thief’s dream. I left my car running. Why take a chance. I ran in got the items that I was told to get and drove home with my hand still tingling.
They cancelled every evening church service in our area and no doubt throughout the state. They next morning we went to our church. Halfway through the service our priest told everyone to go out and start their cars. Five minutes later we were all back in our pews. It was the shortest mas I had been to since my Uncle Charlie said mass on the back deck of the bungalow at Breezy Point.
Now every winter wasn’t as bad but I can remember years when it didn’t get above zero for a month. WE later lived on the Milwaukee River and there was 17″ of ice by New Years Day. One of my neighbors checked with his auger before we allowed the kids to skate on the river.
Cold winters were considered normal. You just got used to them. But here in the Virginia Piedmont when the temperature reaches freezing it’s a big story. The weather forecasters revel in the cold weather not because they truly like it but because its a big story. The weather forecast begins the news shows with endless maps, projections and anecdotes. And if it snows they ask people to email pictures of the snowfall. Many schools were either closed or on a two-hour delay.
But get this. By Sunday it will be 60 and I expect University of Virginia students to be wearing shorts. So much for winter. It’s over in a day or two.