Was it really just last week that we emerged from the deep freeze? Monday afternoon, as dusk was settling, I took Ginger for a late walk and didn’t mind her noodling around, sniffing every other lamppost. This would have been unthinkable a week ago, as the ominously dubbed Arctic Vortex clenched half the country in its icy swirl.
Early last week, as temperatures hovered in the single digits, I barely emerged from my home. If Ginger wanted out, I opened and shut the door as quickly as possible, to avoid the frigid air. We switched over from our heat pumps to our oil burner, since the pumps don’t function efficiently below 10 degrees. My skin dried out. My digital ulcers erupted.
Now, following a delightful weekend in the 50s, my fingers are barely beginning to heal again. A new shipment of fabric bandages (I favor Coverlets, only available by mail order, for their softness and flexibility around my sensitive fingertips) arrived on time, thank goodness, because I was running through boxes of 100 far too fast.
With supplies replenished (I order 1,000 bandages at a time), I’m steeling myself for the next arctic onslaught. That’s right, it looks like we’re going back into the meat locker. The National Weather Service’s 14-day outlook predicts lower than normal temperatures for all of us east of the Mississippi. If you live in the other half of the country, you’re in for warmer than seasonal temps.
According to one hyperventilating summary of upcoming weather that I read, we could be dealing with icy cold into the beginning of February. The author quipped that it will be like those winters your grandparents remember.
This thrills me to no end. But then, I remind myself, this is New England, not the upper Midwest, where temperatures dipped to 40 below over the past few weeks. (My sincere condolences. Really. I cannot imagine surviving there.) Our favorite saying here is if you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute.
Time to get ready. I need to get my well-worn sweaters to the dry cleaners, so they are fresh once again. I need to drive my charcoal grey Prius through the car wash, to rid it of a thick coat of road salt that makes it looks as if someone clapped erasers all over a chalkboard (does anyone use these anymore?), before it gets so cold again that the water will freeze the doors shut.
Most importantly, I need to get my mind wrapped around the fact that I cannot do anything to predict or prevent extremely cold weather. It doesn’t really help to read 14-day weather outlooks, because it will all change, anyway. There is no way to know how whatever freezing cold will impact my hands further until it arrives.
A century ago, the great Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton kept his men alive for two year when their ship, the Endurance, became ice-locked and eventually sank on an aborted expedition to traverse the continent. One of the keys to his leadership success and their survival was to encourage his men to play—igloo building contests, dog sled races, singing.
Maybe that’s the best way to prepare for the next deep freeze—tune out the weather forecasts and tune in some great music.
Evelyn Herwitz blogs weekly about living fully with chronic disease, the inside of baseballs, turtles and frogs, J.S. Bach, the meaning of life and whatever else she happens to be thinking about at livingwithscleroderma.com.