• November 22, 2014

I’m done with winter, and it’s not here yet

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Posted: Friday, December 13, 2013 4:30 am

I don’t mean to whine, but I’m ready for this cold weather to end.

I say this, knowing full well that winter doesn’t even officially begin until Dec. 21. I’m starting to wonder — if it’s this cold now, how bad is it going to get?

Needless to say, I’m starting to regret that column I wrote a few weeks ago extolling the virtues of cold weather. I guess it’s too late to take that one back.

Over the last week or so, I’ve taken to wearing a flannel shirt to bed. I’ve even worn socks on a few nights when the temperatures dipped into the low 20s.

This is Texas, right? This cold weather is only supposed to last a day or two — three at most. But here we are, well into our second week of the frigid stuff.

I was just starting to get a serious case of the pouts when I was snapped back to reality by watching some football over the weekend.

During a Sunday NFL game in Philadelphia, the temperature was 11 degrees and the snow was falling so hard you couldn’t see the field, much less the players. The scene was much the same in Pittsburgh, at least for part of the game.

Then Monday night, I tuned in to the Cowboys-Bears game, which was being played at Soldier Field, on the Chicago lakefront. The game-time temperature was 8 degrees, and the wind chill was minus-9.

By the fourth quarter, the temperature had fallen further, and the fans who were still there looked to be frozen in their seats. Incredibly, almost none of the players wore long sleeves. Even more incredibly, a few fans were shirtless — though I’m not sure if they sported that look for the whole game or just long enough to get on camera.

Every time they zoomed in on a red-cheeked, frozen fan or a bare-armed player whose skin had turned gray in the arctic cold, I felt myself shiver.

I reflected back on my childhood growing up in that part of the country. My family and I spent my early grade school years living in the Chicago suburbs, where my dad taught high school orchestra. Winters there were usually pretty cold and very snowy.

I remember one particularly cold day when the temperature was about 15 below zero. Despite my mom’s urgings to stay indoors, I just had to get bundled up and see what that kind of cold felt like.

She grudgingly obliged, layering me with two pairs of pants, two pairs of socks, a sweater, a heavy winter coat, a stocking cap, woolen mittens, boots and a scarf.

You’d think all that would keep me warm, but no. Within seconds, my eyes were watering fiercely and the small portion of my cheeks that were exposed felt as if they were being sprayed with tiny bits of sharp glass. And as soon as I took a breath, my lungs hurt from drawing in that subzero air. The only way I could ease the discomfort was to use my scarf as a filter.

When my fingers and toes started tingling and my legs began to go numb, I realized it was time to go inside. I probably hadn’t been outdoors more than 10 minutes.

After surviving a day like that and countless other subzero experiences during my 24 years living in Illinois, you’d think I would realize that Texas winters are nothing by comparison.

But after living here for 30-plus years, I’ve become accustomed to warmer winters. In fact, I’ve come to expect them. So when we get a cold spell like the one Central Texas has experienced lately, it’s surprising — and more than a little uncomfortable.

I’m sure we’ll get back to having more Texas-like temperatures soon, and then I can stop my whining.

In the meantime, don’t expect me to take my shirt off. It wouldn’t be pretty.

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