Just how cold is cold?
My husband was in Russia before Christmas. It was cold. At least, it was colder than Chicago. He is heading back this spring and decided he could forgo the down parka this trip—that is until he checked the weather. With temperatures still in the lower teens at night, the parka is going along. Earlier this year he was in Australia, Indonesia, and Brazil, so I was packing shorts for him to wear while there was snow in the forecast here.
We moved to the Midwest from the Pacific Northwest twenty years ago and experienced, for the first time, temperatures in winter low enough to freeze our nose hairs when we breathed; ice forming on the windows inside the house; school cancelled, not for snow, but for cold; and something called wind chill. But we have a friend from Canada who says our winters here are balmy compared to the plains of Saskatchewan.
Even so, I own more turtlenecks, gloves, boots, scarves and wool than I ever imagined I would.
A friend from Brazil was here to stay over Easter; we took him into the city and went for a stroll down Michigan Avenue and out onto Navy Pier. It has been a cold spring, but it was a sunny afternoon and it felt nice to be outside for a change. Even though it was a little chilly at the end of the long pier that is not protected from the wind by skyscrapers, it was not unpleasant. We lingered for only a few minutes, however, because poor Eduardo was turning into a popsicle.
Unless you live in Vostok, Antarctica, cold is relative. So it was, that even though temperatures reached no higher than 44 degrees today, my husband and I went out for a leisurely walk in the warm, spring sunshine.
Photograph by Patrick Cullis, National Science Foundation