html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Because cold is the opposite of hot.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Because cold is the opposite of hot.

Sacramento cooks in the summer. It gets hot, which we start to notice at about 105°. I love the heat. I love the way it loosens my muscles and I feel all melty. I love to sweat, so I love that in that heat, your first sweat breaks instantly. I love feeling the difference between shade and light; I love that a few degrees makes deep shade into a cool oasis. I love that you take three liters of ice water to pick-up and each drink is about half a liter. Water pours down your throat and chest, but it is dry by the next point. I love that when you run in the heat you get a line of salt crystals to show how far your sweat advanced, and you drink another liter of water when you get home. I love the heat.

What I don’t love is people who are new to the heat, and must inform you that they are hot. “I’m hot.” say Bay Area people. “Jesus, it’s hot out.” “Man, this heat is something else.” I don’t know why they say that. There is no new information in that sentence. We are standing together, both equally immersed in the same heat. I know about the heat. I am right here, in the heat. If I were unaware of the heat, mentioning it would only bring my awareness to what they consider an unpleasant state. I could not be unaware of the heat. Why say it? I don’t want to encourage these people by responding to this behavior, so I don’t react to any statements about the heat. It doesn’t matter, though; on the 90 seconds comes “It is so hot.” I patiently, stoically, heroically endure.

What is fascinating, though, is information that I am cold. I have been to agonizingly cold places, where Nature cruelly demands more than a longsleeve t-shirt and a hoodie. The cold was astonishing and interesting and manifested in all sorts of ways, which I do not describe in detail to my friends, but merely sum up by informing them that I am still cold. And yes, again now, still cold.

They are predicting a cold snap for Sacramento, with predicted temperatures of 21°! You read that correctly, below freezing! And not just a frost of a degree or two! Twenty-one degrees! As far as I am concerned, this is just like that movie about the ocean currents reversing from global warming, causing massive hurricanes that sucked the cold of outer space down onto New York and people froze as they inhaled. I will be sheltering in place, and actually turning on the heat tonight. We will be picking the citrus off our trees, to save what we can of the harvest. It is extremely dire and extreme. If I survive the night, I’ll write you tomorrow to tell you that it was really, really cold.

UPDATE: We survived Day One, despite actual ice on the sidewalk this morning. If Spring comes early this year, we may yet live through this brutal winter.
UPDATE: The situation is touch and go, although I cling to hope. Today we must venture out for food; I have no leeks and thus cannot make a lifegiving soup. I will put on several oppressive layers of clothing and string up a clothesline to follow back from the Farmers' Market. I read that is what one does in blizzards, lest one lose one's way in the blinding gusts and featureless drifts, and freeze to death right outside the pleasant coffeehouse.
UPDATE: Day Three. When the Shadow of Death blocks out the sun and warmth and casts a freeze upon the land, the things that are important stand out in stark relief. When temperatures in the twenties trap you in your house for days, there is a lot of time for introspection, time to reassess what you want to do with your life, time to decide if you would be content if the wolves got you now, because you had lived your life true to yourself and your conscience. Lies stand out like beacons in this lifeless, Arctic landscape. There is no hiding from them.
Friends, I did not use the leeks in a lifegiving soup. Instead I sautéed them, mixed up a cheesy sauce and poured it over steamed potatoes and cauliflower. I topped it with panko and baked it. It was very yummy, but I think it was also a message. I think I have been living a lie. I thought I meant it when I picked bread pudding for my New Year's Resolution. But when I listen to the voice in my soul, I hear about gratins. Last night's was not enough; I wonder now about using greens, or carrots, or sweet potatoes. I will make one bread pudding, to pay homage to a path I will not choose. But, if the thaw comes, if we are granted life in 2007, it will be gratins from here on out.

43 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to break this to you, Megan, but it isn't cold until there is a negative sign (if you insist on F instead of civilized temperature scales, in which case you need -20). 0F is every bit as fun as 110F. Just different.

s.

9:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My thermometer runs the same way as yours-- cold is tragic, while 100 (or 40c) is fine. Of course, Jennifer's thermometer runs the other way-- she's from the midwest, and complains that there's never a reason to break out a real winter coat here.

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Bryn said...

I have a hard enough time making small talk and now you want to take away discussing heat? I know it's inane to restate the obvious, and stupid to say redundant things, but that's a lot of small talk and sometimes that leads to more interesting conversation. If I was subbed out on a point and didn't know you, even though I too prefer heat, I might comment on the heat to get a converstation started, but not now ;) ps I own the last shirt on this page http://www.xkcd.com/store/ (but haven't had the courage to wear it)

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Bryn said...

oh and it's way hotter in NC because of the humidity

9:40 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Aw Bryn:
If we were subbed out on a point, I would start our small talk with what a nice job you did marking that guy.

Wear the shirt. Extroverts think you are snubbing us. Really.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

In the very cold, you are beset upon by a thousand assassin with their icy blades. BUT! You can take comfort in your armor, sacrificing only the nose and cheeks to the rogues. And you laugh at them in your invincibility.

In the very hot, your SOUL IS SUCKED FROM YOU and there is no armor to stop the soul sucking. You are reduced to weary comments like "I think my soul is being sucked out of me." and "No, really, it feels like I'm having my soul sucked away."

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well if Sacramento's too cold, you could move to New York - over a month straight of above-normal temperatures, no snow all season, 70 degrees last weekend, 60+ forecast for this weekend.

Peter
Iron Rails & Iron Weights

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Greg said...

That gives me a cool idea for a snippet of dialogue:

"It's going to be 21 degrees tonight."

"Oh, SNAP."

11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can deal with either really.

At Red Rock, it was something like 104 degrees outside here and here

Mt Lassen, it's in the teens at night, 20s during the day, here and here

Though, I prefer the cold, I can always dress warmer for the cold.

The day after tomorrow was a really stupid movie. That magic cold front that was instantly freezing everything, and putting out fires, and whatnot. It was just cold air, and air can only be so cold.

Oh, and it doesn't get cold in California. I still sleep with my window wide open. And, I'd keep the heat off, and the rest of teh windows open too, but my roommate complains.

Justin

12:28 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Greg:
The snarky person could say "Oh SNAP.", but if she tried to snap, her frozen-solid fingers would shatter and crumble to the ground because it would be TOO COLD. She would probably deserve that.

Justin:
It was not "just cold air", it was the vacuum of space, at 0 Kelvins, sucked down to earth to freeze attractive people. Were you not paying attention? You were coveting their Arctic explorer gear, weren't you?

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even space isn't 0 kelvin. The background radiation in space alone is something like 3 degrees K. And that's assuming you can get away from any other heat sources.

And, even if it WAS the vaccum of space, we put stuff up there all the time, and it doesn't freeze instantly. It was a stupid movie.

Justin

1:24 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

It was a great movie for watching with friends, everyone making fun of it the whole time. Tonight, however, we will be sorry that we mocked people who are freezing to death, since we will be staving off that very same threat.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous justus said...

Apparently humans can survive about a minute and a half in a hard vacuum and survive with only minor injuries; of course they pass out after 20 seconds or so. Heat doesn't transfer out of your body very fast in a vacuum because there is no medium to help conduct the heat away. Your nose and mouth will get cold in 10 or 15 seconds because of evaporative effects, however.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pfft, if anyone freezes to death in 21 degrees F living in a city, probably in a house with heat, and blankets, and warm food and drinks, they deserve it.

I don't think I ever once turned the heat on in my apartment in Illinois for the 4 years I lived in it. The appliances radiated enough heat to keep it reasonably warm, probably in the 40s, or low 50s, depending on the day. And sub 0 days weren't so uncommon there.

I love the winter, I finally get to wear my jackets.

You should look into
smartwool stuff, the midweight. It's great, warm, light weight, moisture wicking, and compressible, so you can throw it in your backpack if it gets too warm.

Justin

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am weighing in for no particular reason: Love hot, hate cold.

You all know that this is a typically a gender thing, right? I hate to be sexist, but men just don't get cold and it sort of sucks for those of us who want to turn the thermostat up just a tiny bit.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous fasolamatt said...

Gee, and I was giddy this morning cuz it's only two weeks until ice fishing weekend in Bemidji.

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved the humidity, and I loved the cicadas up there.

Heat is vastly better, except being nine months pregnant during last year's heat wave was only barely tolerable even with constant a/c.


Spungen

2:27 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

eDubin:
I don't often get cold, and my hands are almost always the warmest in the crowds. But when I do get cold, I have no tolerance and I whine like a very whiny person.

fasolaMatt:
I will grieve when the news reports finding your frozen corpse. It will be, like, 20 degrees out, right?

2:30 PM  
Anonymous bryn said...

So if it's truly the day after tomorrow in sacramento, note that your biggest danger is the wolves at the zoo (worst part of the movie)

3:19 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Winter and wolves, two of the three eternal threats. My Russian heritage is inescapable. I should make borscht tonight.

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah Dubin, my g/f and I argue about this constantly. I picked her up from work yesterday, it was about 45 degrees outside, and I had the windows down in my car and the sunroof open. She got in and made me close them all.

Though, I think girls could easily just dress warmer, and everyone could be happy.

This is ALWAYS an issue at night. I want to sleep with the windows open. I'm already sleeping in my underwear with just a sheet, and that's where I'm comfortable. She takes all the blankets, and rolls up in them, and still claims she's cold. Though, I still think she could put on some more clothes to stay warmer. I can't really get rid of anything else to keep myself any cooler at night.

Justin

3:32 PM  
Anonymous ptm said...

I recently spent a night camping on Colorado's Western Slope. It was 8 degrees when I got up just before dawn. I've rarely broken camp faster. Man, that was cold.

3:57 PM  
Anonymous bryn said...

so borscht is the third eternal threat?

4:06 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Cossacks are the third eternal threat. Borscht is very yummy soup that sustains us in our never-ending vigilance against winter, wolves and Cossacks.

I make very good borscht.

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know it's really cold when dogs freeze to hydrants.

Peter

7:28 PM  
Blogger jens said...

There is a reason why men enjoy the cold:

nipples.

7:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the cold and I'm female! Cold weather means snuggling, whereas heat (especially humidity) means discomfort and misery. There's only so much clothing you can take off; being hot when you're completely naked is not a comfortable experience. I agree with Mark's soul-sucking comment completely. But don't worry, those of us who live in freezing temperatures hate it just as much when someone complains about the cold (mere comments are fine for small-talk) but, as is typical for people more acclimated to the heat, are nowhere near appropriately dressed.

10:19 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

as is typical for people more acclimated to the heat, are nowhere near appropriately dressed.

We are dressed appropriately for what the weather should be, or for as cold as we can imagine it being.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

I bet Justin knows where to get a Day After Tomorrow magic tent :) Good luck in the cold, Megan - maybe you could use it as a chat-up line, try asking attractive young med students to come home nad keep you warm or something?

1:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tents don't tend to keep you warm so much, there's really no insulation in them. That's what sleeping bags are for, or snow caves.

A 0 degree bag would be perfect, it's good year round really. Except in the warmest part of the summer. But, it's usable from say 50 or 60 degrees all the way down to at least 10.

Justin

2:14 AM  
Anonymous Rob M said...

Good to hear that you have kept the wolves at bay. Remember to never venture alone into that great white nothing that once was the California landscape, a cold hard bitter end could await.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No life-giving soup? Surely not?What about freshly made tomato or cream of mushroom?

10:51 AM  
Anonymous yoyo said...

Um, theres almost nothing people say that is "new" or something the hearers didn't know. Most of the time people say obvious stuff; there rarely is even anything that is new to say. Talk is usually old stories, injokes (unfunny jokes that make people laugh because of the history), repetition of peoples plans/likes, etc.

People keep talking to keep relationships in the present, and to keep their minds on plesant things. Its said because its on people's mind.

And really, talking abotu mundane non-earth shattering things has been one of the main things thats enabled me to at least act the part of an extrovert more than in the past when i was totally introverted. Thats really one of the breakthroughs i had: people DONT talk abotu things that are interesting, they talk to people who are expressive. Look the divide, still from high school, is dorks and 'in crowd', the former searches for IMPROTANT stuff to say, the latter just tries to be charismatic. And its the second that matters, although if you can have the first one too, thats a nice addition. And introversion is whne you take the quest to say interesting stuff too seriously.

And, hot is terrible. one's skin is constantly sticky and it attracts dust to you and you can't wear cool clothes (well, at least males can't). I had to shower 3x a day when i went to summer camp as a 12yrold. and its draining. I feel so alive when i have on a nice jacket and scarf and amd walking trough the blowing wind and snow. Theres really sharpness to life. heat jsut makes all the contrast fad away.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

Justin, you're not telling me that I can't really buy an enchanted tent? Damn. I may cry.

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like it when it's cold out, because I move faster to keep myself warm. I get to class a solid 3x faster now than in the late spring.

5:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will put on several oppressive layers of clothing and string up a clothesline to follow back from the Farmers' Market.

I don't understand. 21° is just the right climate for the aforementioned t-shirt and hoodie. Why do you need many layers of clothes?

--mith

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post.

But you forgot that once the temperature gets above about 95, Sacramento air turns into a horrible toxic ozone soup. It's not the heat, it's the breathing in the heat.

I hope you made it, and we won't see your frozen body on the local news. Right after the piece on the woman who died in the water-drinking contest.

Marcus

10:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mith is cleary doing Celsius.

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm using Fahrenheit, but I also live in Ohio. I have maybe half a dozen hoodies that serve as my winter wardrobe; I don't think I own anything close to what could be considered a "winter" jacket. Perhaps I'm also in the category of those that are more comfortable in the cold. I also keep the thermostat at 60, so going outside into freezing weather is not that big a shock, I suppose.

I grew up in NC, so I'm comfortable in the hot, too. I don't bother with AC in the summer. Weather just doesn't bother me. Which is probably why I avoid discussing the weather with anyone, cause it's not like talking about it is going to change it.

--mith

7:35 AM  
Blogger LizardBreath said...

On gratins: Many people underestimate the simple rutabaga, when thinly sliced, combined in some proportion with thinly sliced potatoes, and gratined.

(Actually, this is untrue. Pretty much no one ever thinks about the simple rutabaga. But if they did, they'd figure out how good it is when baked with cream and cheese.)

8:36 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

LB:
Rutabaga comes back in a couple months. I will report back on a rutabaga and potato gratin. I hadn't thought of savory rutabaga, but I trust your judgment.

9:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I made a nice pear and potato gratin some time back. It was great. Savory and sweet all in gooey delicious layers

1:07 PM  
Anonymous fasolamatt said...

A photo for you

http://new.photos.yahoo.com/fasolamatt/album/576460762387416202

It got down to ten below F. The sauna got up to 80 degrees C. The bad news was that the snow wasn't deep enough to roll in between sauna sessions.

9:51 AM  

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