Southern Californians don’t know cold

Written by Bob on January 17th, 2013


YUCAIPA, CALIF – It’s 34 degrees this morning and Southern Californian’s – accustomed to sunshine and warmth – are bitching about the cold. Many of my fellow Yucaipans are bundled up in stocking caps and scarves, mittens and long underwear.

“Brrrr, it’s freezing!” they exclaim. Little do they know real cold – much less FREEZING temps where the thermometer plunges well below zero. I’m a farm-raised Minnesotan. I can tell you about unbearable winter weather, and so I will.

…It’s February 1973 and I’m waiting at the buss stop outside my apartment to catch a ride to Mankato State University for a morning class. Overnight, the temperature had plunged to -40 below zero. With a harsh, biting north wind sending the windchill factor to a -80. It’s so cold that my lungs sting when I breathe. Miniature ice cycles have formed on my mustache from breathing slowly and slightly through my nose.

Even though my fingers fit snugly inside thick woolen gloves, each appendage has stiffened like hotdogs stored in a freezer. I clinch and unclench my fingers to keep the blood circulating, but they rebel, moving stubbornly under such frigid conditions. My ears have turned a bright red and tingle from frost bite. A flick of a finger and they would shatter like glass.

I wait about 20 minutes for the buss that never arrives. So I skip my class and trot stiff-legged back to the cozy comfort of my apartment where I hibernate for the rest of the day.

…Let me take you back to about January 1964. I’m 16 years old and working on a dairy and hog farm. The weather on this particular day is horrid, good only for polar bears and Snowshoe rabbits. Probably about -30 below. The old John Deere Model “A” won’t start. Not even offering a faint “chugga-chugga” to give me hope as I crank the flywheel over and over and over. Though I’m wearing thick woolen farmer’s gloves, I can barely wiggle my fingers. They’ve grown numb from cranking the icy-cold flywheel.

After about an hour of cranking, the old John Deere finally fires up with a “chugga-chugga” that holds. I hook the stubborn tractor to the manure spreader, shovel clean the cow gutters in the barn, and drive to the far hayfield to spread the manure. But my worst-ever day on the farm is far from over. The apron chain that pulls the manure to the rear of the spreader breaks. And if I don’t get the manure off quickly, it will freeze solid.

I’m a half-mile from the barn, so I trudge through eight-inches of snow to get a pitchfork to chuck off the rest of the cow ordure before it freezes. To do so, I have to stand knee deep in the slushy, smelly dung that proceeds to freeze solid like concrete on my boots and pants. All the while I’m cursing my pitiful life as a farmer on this frozen tundra we call Minnesota.

…Go back even further when as a young lad of eight I had to plod through three feet of snow blanketing our one-mile driveway to catch the school bus. It’s an arduous trek I make to and from school. And to make matters worse, the driveway rises sharply uphill both ways…

I could narrate more tales of my pitiful weatherly woes, but suffice it to say: 34 degrees isn’t cold!

1 Comments so far ↓

  1. Darlene Lundell says:

    It was 37 degrees this morning and it was beautiful. I felt like I didn’t need to wear a winter jacket. However I did because the winds were going to incresase and temps were going to fall drastically throughout the day. The winds right now are pushing 50 miles an hour and the temp is supposed to go below zero. Tuesday’s high is supposed to be 2 below zero. Which compared to past winters is considered warm. Minnesota has not had this temperature for 4 years. The winters have changed from past years, we are having milder, warmer weather and I think in years to come the temperature will continue to rise. I do not think Minnesota will see the huge snow banks like I used to play on when I was younger. I can now count on one hand how many times I need to shovel or use the snow blower in a winter season. All due to the greenhouse effect. A sad fact but I have to admit that I like the milder winters.

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