“Baby it’s cold outside.” So go the lyrics of a song that is usually more popular toward the end of December than it is in the end of February. There is no doubt how cold it is. Television news reports it to be the coldest February since 1885.
Looking at that record is interesting. It shows that this is not Columbus’ first really terrrible winter. It establishes that this frigid cold snap may not be a matter of pollution, nor a result of industrialization and the use of carbon fuels. 1885 was a time without cars when most industry operated on water wheels and coal generated steam engines. Many may argue that science proves that climate changes are the result of human action, yet the prevalence of prior terrible weather patterns may suggest otherwise. Before 1885 there was a “small ice age” in the late 18th century. Being objective, regarding global warming aka climate change, the jury seems out.
Cold as it is in Columbus, what is more interesting is not the frigid temperatures, but the by Ohioans. This writer grew up in Upstate New York and Philadelphia. Piling on of snow in Rochester was not uncommon, and heavy snow storms and cold snaps were not rare in the City of Brotherly Love. Yet, in both cities, life went on when the weather was chilly. Schools remained open unless roads were impassible. Businesses and schools operated, even when outdoors was well below freezing. Kids walked to school (in my case one and a half miles each way) with warm coats, gloves and earmuffs.
Why did school after school close when temperatures plummeted? What became of snow pants or long johns for kids to wear as they wait for school buses? Do parents no longer buy winter-ware to protect against the cold? Does the weather compel us to forget our values and ideals? Is the importance of education forgotten? Has the Jewish community forgotten the mitzvah of educating kids as a prime directive for every Jewish family? It seems too foreign for this writer to fathom.
Back in the day, if schools were closed, day care centers did a bumper business. Parents who could not afford to call off from work needed a place to send children. Yet when it snowed last Thursday, many early childcare centers and preschools were shuttered.
It is hard to imagine how unprepared people are for the severity of winter. Winter is the coldest time of year in North America. We should glory that we are not in northern and western Canada. (This writer lived through four Alberta winters. In those years as the thermometer showed forty below not only was school in session, but students bundled up and went outdoors at recess.)
Perhaps it is not fear of freezing that forces its will, but the penchant to pamper progeny. Either way, our reaction to cold is an implausible contretemps to our normal strive to succeed. If we succumb to winter, how will the community fair against greater challenges?
Total shut down on wintry days is ridiculous. Instead of accepting defeat by winter, lets meet it head on, with warm coats, snow pants and long johns, mufflers and scarves, mittens and gloves, and even ski masks and goggles. Then we can be inspired by our kids as they sled and skate, make snow angels and do February things that so many adults enjoyed in their youth. And if the weather becomes even colder, break out some hot chocolate.