Thursday, December 23, 2004

Baby, it's cold outside

Well, if you live south of the Mason-Dixon line, your Gloat Meter should have gone off today. The daytime temperature here in the Kansas City area -- smack dab in the middle of the country if you're geographically-challenged -- was in the single digits. If you figure for wind chill and other variables, it's still in the single digits, but with that wicked minus sign in front of it.

I don't really want to know what the temperature is outside right now at 10:30 at night. Cold enough that when I take Clementine the hound out to take care of her business, she's downright brisk about it, not even caring to snuffle the ground to see if cats have been trespassing. And cold enough that cats don't trespass -- the most self-reliant cats-about-town haven't been abroad in weeks. Any of them lucky enough to possess a heater they can call their own doesn't budge from it.

If you're in one of those balmy southerly regions, I'll tell you that temperatures this low cut into you like a knife when you go out. When I was new enough to the Midwest not to understand the times that gloves aren't optional, I couldn't believe that by the time I had filled my tank at the gas station, the cold would've cut into my hands until they hurt as if I had punched through a window. You don't even realize as you walk that a lot of muscles are clenching in some primordial attempt to shield you from the elements, so that you become sore sometimes with the effort.

It all sounds very grim, and perhaps it is in a way. Ah, but what it means in such arctic conditions to be inside. What a blessed word that is -- inside. With the heater humming along and the Christmas tree lights making a cheerful reflection on the windows. With a dog in the next room warming the bed for me and a quiet, quiet street outside.

I just finished watching my favorite Christmas movie, the version of The Christmas Carol with George C. Scott. I'm not someone who gets tired of seeing movies that I really like over and over. I think I've liked something about every version I've seen -- including the Mr. Magoo one, which was the only one I knew about when I was a kid -- but for me all the elements come together the best in this one. They leave in most of the things I like and don't try to change the dialogue. Sorry, but there's no need to, not even after 140 (or whatever) years. I could certainly wish that Dickens hadn't started the tradition of venerating Christmas as a day and a state of mind without ever really mentioning why it's celebrated. But even that just seems like nit-picking right now. It's a fine thing to see it on Christmas Eve eve -- as fine as one of the cups of Christmas punch that they allude to and that I imagine must be spiced with oranges and cinnamon and served piping hot.

They make Scrooge's London look even more inhospitable outside than Kansas City, Missouri. But they make Christmas celebrating look every bit as warming to the soul as my toasty house and my blinking tree.

God bless us, every one.

4 Comments:

Blogger Kelvin said...

Hi Grace!

Thanks! I really enjoy reading your blog. Why not try read mine?
http://drkelvene.blogspot.com

December 23, 2004 at 9:26 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

Your ending made me smile Grace. You constantly amaze me with your writing prowess.

I can't really relate to the negative degree temperatures, but it was colder than normal today, and I was freezing at work. It's a really nice feeling to come home to a warm house and just relax.

December 23, 2004 at 9:59 PM  
Blogger Grace said...

Kelvin:
Absolutely I'll give it a read. I'm getting better at all the little Firefox tricks that allow me to swing by more sites. Thanks for including your URL. I don't know at this point when I'll get my new-and-improved site up, but when I do I'll have a link list like a real blogger!

December 25, 2004 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger Grace said...

Sean,
Well, coming from that area into Indiana (which is a little worse for weather) and then here, I was surprised to find that it's not *that* much harder to get used to. I remember feeling just chilled to the bone walking around that Midway City house in winter. I don't know if there's something about the conditions, or if it's just a matter of your body's thermostat getting more efficient when it gets below freezing, but I would swear I stay warmer here in winter than I did there. Go figure.

December 25, 2004 at 12:21 PM  

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