I woke up this morning and, with the wind chill, it was -15 degrees outside. That is frickin’ cold. But it’s not really any worse than if it was -10 out. Seriously, once you get below zero you are in the final level of coldness, whose stages I will now explain to you.
STAGE 1: 60s
If it is 70 out, you are not cold. If you live in some stupidly hot place like SoCal or SoFlor, or SoWhat, there is a chance that you might think you are cold at 70 and put on a sweater; I have heard tell of such insanity. But honestly, human beings can survive quite nicely in the 70s without having their blood freeze in their veins and whatnot. No, the first time you should feel a bit of a chill is when it starts dipping into the lower 60s. If you wear a long sleeve shirt at this point, you can be forgiven. But this is only the first stage…
STAGE 2: 50s
Now you need a jacket or a sweater, but it is a crisp and refreshing cold (unless it is raining, in which case it is miserable). These are the beautiful autumn days of leaf peeping, apple picking, and being picked last for touch football. 50s are glorious, but mildly chilly. The only reason to continue to wear shorts in these temperatures is if you are a Vermonter.
STAGE 3: 40s
Okay, now it’s cold. This is legitimate coldness. You aren’t freezing your face off quite yet, but there’s a chance that you may start to see your breath. That windbreaker just isn’t cutting it anymore. The long walks have become shorter. You step outside and you can feel the cold. Not horribly or oppressively, but just enough to know that it is cold out. Unless it is February in Vermont, in which case you put on shorts and a t-shirt and prance about like an idiot declaring that Spring has arrived.
STAGE 4: 30s
Things have changed. This is where freezing happens. Frost. Snow. Ice. You are in a whole new world of cold, my friend. Yeah, you still go outside, but there is no longer any sort of reasonable excuse not to have hot chocolate when you come back in. If someone tells you it is not that cold out, you have every right to argue. It might not be that cold out, but humans cannot survive out in it, your garden cannot survive out it in, and even some of the Vermonters are starting to wear pants.
STAGE 5: 15-30 degrees
When it drops below freezing, you know it. The cold is no longer messing around. The cold wants to kill you. Or at least keep you inside. Your boogers start to freeze. You don’t really want to be outside anymore. UVM students can’t even run to class in their shorts. Shorts are limited to quick runs to the mailbox and then back inside. It’s COLD!
STAGE 6: 0-15 degrees
You can feel it, can’t you, when the temperature drops below 15? When it starts to hit 12, and 10, and 8? You know that you are at cold level 6. Your eyelashes are now starting to crust over with tiny icicles. You wouldn’t even go to the mailbox in shorts. The most exposure your legs get now is as you stand in your boxers at the open front door, signing the slip for the pizza delivery eskimo. Forget about seeing friends or neighbors. They will still be there in the Spring, provided they survive.
STAGE 7: Below Zero
I’ll be honest. Once you go below zero it’s hard to tell the difference anymore. 20 below? 40 below? 60 below? It’s just instant death. Your legs start to feel it immediately, even through your pants (and possible long underwear). Even after coming back inside, you must rub your thighs for long periods of time to get them to stop tingling. Kids aren’t allowed out for recess. Booger-freeze is now instantaneous. Your lungs hurt just from breathing in the frigid air. It is at temperatures like these that some crazy people, my wife included, decide that jumping in a lake would be a good idea. Yes, you heard me right, she’s doing the “Penguin Plunge” next weekend to raise money for the Special Olympics. I’m not doing it, for many of the reasons I have just outlined in this handy list, but if you would like to support her, and this great cause, click here to donate! And thanks for all of your support!