Monday morning, time to leave the house and head back to work. My Christmas break was now a thing of the past. I was about to turn off the radio, when the newscaster informed me that it was -15degrees outside!! That is minus 15 Fahrenheit which translates to minus 26 Celsius. The same newscaster stressed to cover all exposed skin, in an effort to avoid frostbite. With a shudder I turned off the radio and headed to the mudroom/utility room. For the next five minutes, literally 5 minutes, I proceeded to pile on layers of clothes. There was the scarf to go under the coat. Next the woolen socks and fur lined boots. Then came the extra sweater, the hat, another scarf over the hat, the down filled ankle length coat, the tinsulated gloves followed by fur lined mittens. By this time I was breathless and exhausted! Not mention twice the width!
I stood looking out the glass pane of my back door, pondering the pros and cons of actually venturing out to brave the elements. To be honest the cons outweighed the pros…I don’t think there is a job that pays enough to entice the likes of me, with my thin Irish blood to endure such arctic conditions. I firmly believe even polar bears would shiver in this piercing weather. But that annoying little voice in my head insisted, since it was my first day back after the Christmas holidays, it would be very bad form not make the extreme effort. According to the long term forecast the temperatures are going to deteriorate as the week progresses. How long could I justify staying home. Annoying that voice!!!
I only live two blocks from my campus office and so I walk to work. A beautiful walk that is too short on late spring and autumn days. This same walk becomes a tortuous endless slog against the harshness of the winter wind. Often bringing me to tears with the pain and sting of the cold. I made my way down the street, head down, not only for added protection to the face, but to watch my step. Fearing I would take another spill, which I have a tendency to do on a regular basis this time of year. Looking up only to avoid collision when passing another eejit walking about in this weather. This is when it occurred to me that maybe I was not the only one who spends January looking at the footpath. I made a mental note to watch and see if this was the norm. I was surprised to notice, every person braving the footpath was looking down at their feet. Watching as they gingerly attempted to avoid ice patches and landing on their backsides. I passed a young couple walking on campus, conversing but not looking at one another. They too were looking down. I surmised this must be the standard posture for Wisconsin winters. I made a mental note to pay attention and observe when people began to look up and at one another again while walking about. Winter lasts for approximately six months here. So I guess it will be awhile before looking ahead is the norm. Till then there’s a lot of ground watching going on!!