Chilly, Frosty, Frigid…Posted: November 16, 2011
The temperature in North Pole, AK is -40 degrees today…-40!
How do you wrap your head around that? It isn’t even December yet. When I opened the blinds in our living room this morning, the corners of the windows were frosted on the inside, not condensation, frozen. Cold little crystals nestled in the corners like spider webs. Yesterday, the inside of the car was frozen. The inside! Frost across the dash board and raised lines of ice around the steering wheel. I am wholly unprepared for this kind of cold.
Looking out the window is misleading. It looks beautiful. Soft-white and peaceful. No wind. Like the inside of a snow globe. And when you walk out the door, it feels cold but not bad at first. And then you take a few more steps, you feel it on your face, and then you breath in through your nose and it crackles. In five minutes your face tingles. You cough. You start to wonder when frostbite sets in. You rush for any place with bright lights and an open door that will let you in. This was me walking to the grocery store yesterday afternoon, and it was only, ha, -20.
In the grocery store, I listened. I expected people to be complaining. I expected people to be talking about packing up there things and moving. But they weren’t. No one said a word about the cold. Instead, they made off-hand comments about Thanksgiving, and the cashier asked me if I found everything okay. I wanted to say, do you know it is freezing out there?
I love winter. The snow makes me feel like putting on my boots and going for a walk. But the cold here is something else. It holds me captive. Cabin fever. Winters in the upper peninsula of Michigan are nothing to scoff at, but the interior of Alaska has redefined my idea of cold. My new winter motto: Give me snow, not cold.
It does make me admire all those people who don’t complain, the ones who choose this permanently. Alaska is the kind of place that makes you accept nature as the superior force. I love that about it. The wild is wild here. But for me, if I can’t get outdoors, I start getting a little crazy, and temperatures like this every winter would definitely lead to crazy.
But I’m happy we are here this winter. Part of the reason we decided to travel for the first year of our marriage was to experience new things. To see how other people lived and to explore new corners of the country. Alaska has offered all of this and more. Now I can officially say I know what real cold feels like. This experience will also someday lead to stories that start with, it was so cold…just like the stories my dad tells about walking up hill both ways to school, barefoot, in three feet of snow, but mine will be true.