Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The winter of our discontent, Part II

Fans of the “Game of Thrones” series are familiar with the warning “Winter is coming.”

Here in the Midwest, not only has winter come, it has moved in, unpacked its bags and established residency. I’m trying to find a way to blame Canada for this. Forecasters keep talking about the Arctic air masses sweeping over the upper Midwest. I’m ready to pack my bags and move to the Arctic. Since all their air has plunged Iowa into the deep freeze, surely it must be warmer there than it is here.

Well, it IS February after all. Winter is not an unheard of condition in these parts. We’re used to it. Snow. Cold. Blah, blah. Yeah. Whatever. Put on your big girl long johns, spike your hot cocoa with a little Bailey’s, buy a new car battery and get over it.

However, here is an indication of how deep into the winter abyss we have tumbled.

Today at noon when I went to get lunch, the sky was brilliant blue. The recent snowfall sparkled in the city park like a million diamonds. The air was bitterly cold and with a razor’s edge of dryness. Huge piles of snow edged sidewalks and intersections, remnants of the most recent storm. The streets in the business district remained glazed with what is apparently a permanent layer of ice. We haven’t seen the actual street surface in a month. I took a deep breath and thought, “What a beautiful day. This is the nicest day we’ve had in a long time. It’s really not bad out here.” How nice. I could appreciate being outdoors without the imminent threat of succumbing to hypothermia.

I got in my van, turned the ignition and looked at the thermometer. It was 1 degree above zero.

Yes, I was having warm fuzzy thoughts about a day when the mercury had climbed out of its sub-zero pit and achieved such lofty heights as 1 degree.

Welcome to hell. And it has frozen over.

This morning when I drove to work, the air temp was -25. And that didn’t really bother me. Yeah. Whatever. It’s nasty ass cold. Again. I’ve gotten used to it. THAT bothers me. I am so used to wind chill advisories and frost bite warnings and new record lows that they no longer have much impact on my brain. Just another day in Hoth. Watch out for tauntauns and snow speeders.

The radio announcers have started using a new term to describe the winter funk we have collectively sunk into here in the Midwest: snow fatigue. We are just so damned tired of snow. And bitter cold. And wind. And more snow. And cancellations. And delays. And oh look, it’s snowing again! Isn’t that special.

A student in my current class recently moved to Iowa from the southeast part of the country.

“Are winters here always like this?” she asked. The look on her face said she was afraid to hear the answer and more than ready to throw her stuff in a bag and catch the next train out of town if she didn’t like it.

“Um, no,” I assured her, trying to salvage some positive PR for the Hawkeye state. “We get horrible cold spells but they usually only last a few days, not a few months.” Not sure she was buyin’ it. At that point, people could die simply by going outside without the right kind of clothing.

Team Phoenix is headed to our first trial of the year this weekend. I am not giddily optimistic about a brilliant ring performance because our training time lately has fallen somewhere between limited and nearly non-existent. If I planned to meet friends to train at the club building 25 miles away, it snowed. And it didn’t just snow. It SNOWED. As in white-out blizzard conditions resulting in 30 car pileups on the interstate. So I stayed home.

If I planned to attend a fun match at a local club, it snowed, the match got canceled and I stayed home. If I planned to fly over to the club building after work to train before the evening’s classes, it snowed and I stayed home. If by some miracle it didn’t snow, the screaming winds and plunging temps sunk to such dangerously absurd lows that law enforcement warned people not to travel unless it was an emergency. I personally think Phoenix’s moving stand and glove turns constitute at least a minor emergency . . . but I stayed home.

Neither Jamie or Phoenix are getting much exercise beyond chasing one another around the house. It’s too cold for them to be outside any longer than it takes to go potty. Phoenix attempts to do his business without any feet actually touching the ground, then limps back to the house, alternating which miserably cold paws he holds aloft. Jamie thinks going potty directly by the back door is technically “outside,” which has led to a whole new set of problems.

I am not a paranoid type of person but lately I’ve started to feel like Mother Nature is out to get me. The mere act of even THINKING about going somewhere to train causes yet another Polar Vortex to come plunging down upon us from the wilds of the frozen north, dumping more snow and howling winds.

Phoenix’s training has been reduced to working fronts and finishes in front of a mirror in an empty upstairs bedroom at home. This is not an entirely bad thing. His fronts and finishes need work. But so does everything else. I joked with a friend that we are training once a week, whether we need it or not.

The first warm and sunny spring day we get, I’m calling in sick to work and taking my dog to the park to train. Of course it will be knee-deep in mud by then but I don’t care.  In the meantime, we will go to this weekend’s trials and see what’s what. It’s supposed to snow.


  1. Winter for you all has been rough. I can't imagine.

  2. Agreed! I feel like this is the never-ending winter, and my dog training has been reduced to that which can be done in the living room and hallway. Maybe soon we'll get a respite?

  3. I didn't want to comment on your Jamie posts with this. You totally made my day knowing someone still reads my blog. It's very annoying that I had to make it private. I met a lot of great people through the blog, including some I'm now friends with in person. So thank you.

    Here's a video for Phoenix of us trying barn hunt. They have a trial coming up and I thought of it because Layla likes it a lot and is quite good at it. But after the registration fee with the barn hunt association and entry fees, it would be over $125, basically a 3 day agility trial. I can't justify that money spent right now but I'm hoping they have a regular practice again.