Even for fans of winter, this cold snap is a challengeSam Cook column: Two of us were bumbling around at the back of the van, grabbing snowshoes, pulling on face masks, cinching down those areas of heat loss where mittens meet sleeves. Cold. Again. Or still.
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
Two of us were bumbling around at the back of the van, grabbing snowshoes, pulling on face masks, cinching down those areas of heat loss where mittens meet sleeves.
It’s been cold for so long now we can hardly remember any other kind of weather. Fifteen below. Twenty-two below. Up north and along the border, 36 and 42 and 47 below. Highs struggling to hit 5 below, maybe zero on a good day.
“It’s too cold to go ice-fishing,” says the guy in the next cubicle, an avid angler.
But the two of us are going to strap on our snowshoes and stomp up a North Shore stream for an hour. We’ll be warm soon. Once our heart rates ramp up, that hot blood will go pulsing through our artery interstates, branching off at the exits to the county road vessels and finally down to the two-track capillaries at the cul-de-sacs of our fingers and toes. Life will be good, as long as we’re moving.
It’s just the transition that’s painful.
But not everyone can make that transition. A buddy of mine, a guy who appreciates the outdoors, is dealing with GONGO, a psychological disorder that afflicts people during a prolonged spell of deep cold. It’s the Guilt Of Not Going Outdoors.
He knows he should be getting outside. He has a dog that needs to be walked. He likes snowshoeing. He loves the North Shore. But he can’t make himself go out there. Not in this unrelenting cold.
“I’m feeling guilty for not going out,” he says. “I know I should embrace it. I know I should just take what it gives me.”
But what it’s giving him is malaise. He’s suffering from cold-induced morose. Lack-of-exercise guilt. A-body-at-rest-tends-to-stay-at-rest syndrome. His head is telling him to get out there, to breathe deeply in that crystalline air. But his furnace is saying, “Stay here with me. I’ll take care of you.”
It’s easy to do. You look outside at snow up to the armpits of the apple trees, and it gives you the shivers. You start the car, and as soon as it fires, it cuts loose with that weird moaning sound. Any breeze turns bare cheeks to the consistency of Pringles.
And the media — those darn media — just aid and abet the cold. Every night on the TV news, we see the depressing graphics, all the little rectangles of minus double-digit temperatures for the week ahead.
“Better bundle up,” the weather person says. “There are going to be dangerously cold wind chills out there.”
And we all shudder again.
Just the other day, this newspaper reported that the average temperature for December in Duluth was 4.6 degrees. Not the average low, no, but the average temperature for 31 days. Apparently, we endured the seventh-coldest December on record, the story said.
I suspect that none of this is good news for those like my friend suffering from GONGO.
It’s supposed to warm up today. Fifteen above, they say.
Maybe my friend can break out.
I hope so.
Monday’s forecast high: minus 12.
Sam Cook is a Duluth News Tribune columnist and outdoors writer. Reach him at (218) 723-5332 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/samcookoutdoors or on Facebook at “Sam Cook Outdoors.”