The cold has sucked the life out of people. It is not born of the light, but is born of the sunless north, where the sun sinks in September and isn’t seen until March. Even in the brilliant sun the wind is of darkness, and is an enemy of warmth, and a great battle is occurring, though people pretend life continues as usual.
One customer told me she had set the heat at sixty-seven, and the furnace ran non-stop, and her house had never warmed past sixty-two.
The men who drive the lumbering oil trucks and propane trucks no longer lollygag about with jovial expressions. Their temples are tense, and they look stressed, as they rush to keep all the furnaces fueled.
The cold also sucks people’s wallets dry, as they must pay to be warm. The fact the prices are artificially inflated to discourage the use of fossil fuels, and to promote solar power and wind turbines, isn’t going over too well. People don’t care all that much about the environment when the environment is out to freeze their butts off.
According to mere temperatures, we’ve just come through the coldest five-day-period in something like ten years. However that doesn’t factor in the wind. The people who deal in statistics will have to work on a better measure, but until they do, or invent a better thermometer, I’ll use my measuring device, which is a little brook.
Actually it is more of a ditch, dug around two hundred years ago to drain a marshy pasture, and now kept dug because, if we allow the ditch to fill in with leaves and soil, environmentalists might swoop in and declare our pasture a wetland, so they can breed mosquitoes rather than livestock.
For the moment, however, it is a ditch with around an inch of water trickling along the bottom, moving from pool to pool. In the summer it is bone dry, and when the snow melts or after drenching rains it is a small brook, but now it is just a trickle. Or it was a trickle, until these cruel winds started to blow.
As the wind sucked the life from the water, first the pools froze, and then the running rills coagulated like candle wax, building bumps and bulges as it blocked its own passage by freezing, until finally all was still and silent, and the water gurgled no more.
Upstream there was still a single slushy place, where warmer water still oozed up from underground and attempted to flow seawards, but didn’t get far. From there down the small farm pond, and from the pond to the edge of the property, it was frozen from top to bottom.
I tested every inch, which often involved a face full of scratchy branches as I pressed through the overgrown sections. However those same sections were arched tunnels for the little children, who scooted on their stomachs like otters down a glass highway, full of glee.
Listening to their exclaiming voices, it occurred to me that they were the one thing that the wind couldn’t suck the life out of. They, at least, were winning the battle against darkness and cold.