Friday, December 29, 2017

Children of a cold sun

Cold City, by Paul Klee (Metropolitan Museum of Art) 


     If you think you have it bad, consider the arctic wooly bear caterpillar, who spends the bulk of his life frozen solid.
     Ground squirrels hardly fare better: hibernating up to eight months a year, though every two weeks they tremble back to semi-warmth, then return to their winter coma.
     Consider today’s column to be a written version of the squirrelly shiver, a healthy shake to wake ourselves up, get our blood going after too long a period at low temperature.
     The coldest Chicago Christmas in a decade, with the promise of single digits until after New Year’s. Days and days that can seem forever.
     “There’s no end in sight” began the official National Weather Service report Thursday, indicating that Friday will rise to a balmy 18 degree high, only to slam back down to 2 below by nightfall; down to – 25 with the wind chill.
     So let’s talk about cold.

     If you could go back in time a thousand years, stride into a snow-covered winter encampment of Saxon marauders, boldly tap a fierce thane on his bearskin shoulder and ask how he is—”Hū eart þū?”—he might tersely reply, “Cald.”
     The blunt word, aptly frozen, comes down to us practically unchanged. The original language of the 1390s Canterbury Tales is almost incomprehensible today. But “cold” stands out. Consider a line from The Miller’s Tale:

To continue reading, click here.

25 comments:

  1. Don't get a dog that needs a coat, get a Samoyed, they love this weather & will just roll around in the snow. They were bred originally in Siberia maybe 10,000 years ago, which is longer than the biblical loons who believe the Earth is only 6000 years old!
    On top of that, they are the friendliest dogs imaginable.
    All they want is to love you & be loved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the grooming & shedding would be a big problem

      Delete
    2. Big deal, there's a little hair. Grooming is easy, take them to the groomer a few times a year.

      Delete
  2. I don't agree with Trump on immigration, because he's racist. But he has a point about global warming. We need more. We should abolish and outlaw nature and the environment. Dome cities and heat them. All talk about environment should end and humanity should dictate how things will be from now. Environmentalism must be criminalized and severely punished as a crime against humanity. Because of the Democratic Party's advocacy of environmentalism and gun control, they should be impeached from Congress and then their party disbanded, for the sake of our children's future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm trying to figure out who you really are?
      A Russian troll? Nah, what you wrote is too extreme for even them.
      You can't be Rodrigo Duterte, as he would demand the execution of the Democrats, not impeachment.
      My guess is you're a lonely old guy who spews this crap just to make people mad & loves to see people seething at you in their responses.
      I'm not seething, I just find you pitiful.

      Delete
    2. Are you playing off A Modest Proposal here, or are these your true thoughts? If it's satire, perhaps put a winking sign after ;), if that's how you really feel, get some help, quick.

      Delete
    3. True thoughts. Millions of us have the environmentalists and are demanding that Trump take action to put an end to the EPA, recycling, and all the other restrictive regulatory nonsese. We will destroy the "environment" and make Earth a paradise for people. No more environment.

      Delete
    4. I think you meant "hate" the environment. In any case, I'm fairly sure you're being sarcastic.

      Delete
    5. I'm charmed by Anonymous's bold assertion that we humans can abolish the environment, less so by his/her draconian methods of stifling opposition. I guess the notions go together, however: radical changes in one area require radical changes in all others. That's where Obamacare fell short. If the law had stipulated that people who refused to purchase health insurance would be shot, it would have been a roaring success.

      john

      Delete
    6. It really doesn't matter if "Anonymous" is being sincere or not. What matters is that he's getting way too much attention for a guy that doesn't have the balls to sign his name.

      Delete
  3. The cold we endure for a few months every year is a goodness. It does an excellent job of killing much of the vermin plaguing the tropical regions. Creatures like africanized killer bees, fire ants, termites, lions, and rhinoceroses lack the hardiness required to survive harsh winters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll try to remember that when I'm scraping my windshield,warming up the car at dawn, shoveling or sliding down the street.

      Delete
  4. The dark, coldest days of winter remind me of Dante's Satan, frozen in ice up to his chest in the deepest pit of Hell, “the deepest isolation is to suffer separation from the source of all light and life and warmth.” When it's this cold, I can understand his reasoning behind that final circle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very interesting. We're thinking along the same lines. I was reading the last Canto yesterday, boning up on that very scene, trying to figure out how to incorporate it. But it just didn't fit. There is an irony that core of hell is frozen.

      Delete
    2. Frostbite burns. Also people who freeze to death go through a phase in which the brain thinks the body is overheating. People often strip off their clothes and burrow into the snow.

      Delete
    3. I read somewhere that Eskimos believe heaven is in the warm Earth and hell is in the cold sky. I have no idea whether that's true.

      Delete
    4. Excellent observation, Wendy; I never would have thought of it myself.

      SandyK

      Delete
  5. The word "cold" may have always evoked low temperatures to we Anglophones, but "caldo" means the very opposite in Italian (technically molto caldo is "hot") one of the stumbling blocks in my somewhat fraught attempts to master that lovely tongue.

    Tom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Molto caldo" means "very hot."
      "Cold" in Italian is "freddo". Goofy Italians, eh?

      Delete
    2. You can remember caldo is close to scald.

      (Or maybe not. I have a tendency toward goofy mnemonics when I'm trying to learn a language. Oh well, whatever works.)

      Delete
    3. Could be. Also, the Latin root can be found in caldarius, or something like that, meaning "caldron".

      Delete
    4. In Spanish, "caldo" is soup.

      Delete
    5. I love Latin. It's so accessable.

      Delete
  6. As much as I like dogs, days like this make me happy I don't have one. If I had to go out and walk it, I'd probably end up hating the poor innocent thing.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I was living in Evanston on Super Bowl Sunday of 1985, the day Chicago's all-time low of minus-27 (air temperature, not merely the wind chill) occurred. Drove to the store for munchies and beer and had to stop by sideswiping a snow bank because my brake lines were frozen. Ended up in someone's front yard, narrowly missing a large tree, because the car stalled and the power steering was no longer working. Forgot about getting supplies and returned home. Coldest day of my life.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting. As soon as I vet your remarks, they'll be posted.