They used to call it a “cold snap”, or tell us, in the voice of sage old sayings that “as the days begin to lengthen, the cold begins to strengthen”. As February nears and the sap starts to rise in the maples, it sometimes gets cold in the US Midwest. Usually briefly, for a day or two a week at most, but it’s serious cold.
Nowadays they call it a “polar vortex”, which is more dramatic than “cold snap” and mixes up nicely with the rhetorical style of the 24 hour news cycle. And this year’s polar vortex was a pip. It was below zero Fahrenheit for three solid days, with a low of -18 and dangerous winds– colder here in Indiana than in Alaska or Siberia. Even now, as the Vortex loses its energy, it’s a balmy six degrees. Of course, forecasts for Monday predict highs in the 50s, but that’s the Midwest for you. The king of all local weather sayings is “if you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute”. That’s paraphrased from Mark Twain, by the way.
I actually had a pretty pleasant Polar Vortex. The new furnace kept on chugging, we’d stocked up appropriately on food, and the cable and the internet never went out. I did a bunch of drawing and even took a few photographs. Above, a Polar Vortex cardinal, on a -14 morning, through a window. Below, two macro shots of frost on the inside of the storm door. These were taken at night, in the very center of the vortex: the only photographs I think I’ve ever taken at 18 below.
Even so, I think we can be confident that spring is coming, eventually. And if we get another cold snap, please be careful out there.