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Hook and Bullet Club - Cold weather

The thermometers in the Ely area were stuck at -30 degrees for several nights and then we got the big one: -40 degrees. That just about did it for a lot of people.If you’re going to put down roots in Ely, MN you better enjoy the winter months or you’re in for a rough time.But even the hardiest of folks draw a line in the ice somewhere. Last week the -40 degrees reading was more than a line, it provided some interesting side effects.First we had a temperature inversion where smoke from chimneys hits a ceiling about 40 feet off the ground and just stays there. In the dark this created what our press operator Terry termed “northern lights coming out of the ground.” Street lights and automobile lights streaming up through the frozen air took on new colors and provided for a rare sight.Of course there are some familiar sights when we hit a cold snap like this. The number of people who leave their vehicles running outside the grocery stores outnumbers those who fear auto thieves and lock their doors as if we live in Minneapolis.And when you get in your car after a night of numbing temps, there’s that strange feeling someone replaced your nice seat with a stiff board. Forget the cushy seat you used to sink into, you now have a frozen rock but it does give you a higher view of the road.There’s always the adventure of seeing whether or not your vehicle will start. This is like a game of sorts. My 1994 Chevy truck fired right off Wednesday morning but my 1980 Chevy pickup wasn’t going anywhere. Neither were plugged in, a common remedy to the problem used by those who are winter-wise. Just need to find my extension cord under the eight inches of snow we got on Sunday.Megan is on the school patrol and has had the morning shift so we get to school before the rest of the crowd comes in. Being on the school patrol in bitter cold is an early test in life. Standing on the corner making sure kids can cross the street safely is a noble volunteer service, but it doesn’t warm you up at all.We still use the term “red paper” to signify that it’s cold enough out that the elementary kids are allowed to enter the school upon arrival instead of standing on the playground until the bell rings.(The term comes from school officials placing a piece of red paper in the window to let students know they should come inside).When we have cold weather on a weekend, your recreational choices become limited. For snowmobilers, the expensive but extremely useful heated face shield on helmets is a requirement.The name is a bit of a misnomer since your faces derives no heat from this contraption. It’s really just like the wires in many rear car windows, it melts the ice from the outside and inside of your face shield. You should use all the layers you can when heading out to snowmobile, fish, ski, dog sled or snowshoe in bitter cold. You can always peel a layer off if you get too warm.Dressing in layers works well in fighting the cold although you still see people who use the big goose down parkas to stay warm. I would bet that no matter what people wear, they drink a lot more coffee and hot chocolate and order up more bowls of soup in the cold weather.The busiest people when it’s cold out are the guys who drive the fuel oil trucks. Their lives become miserable with long hours in cold conditions with hoses that turn into lead snakes they have to wrassle through the snow to reach a fill pipe on a house. Tow truck drivers are also likely to put in long hours when the temps drop. In addition to vehicles not starting, there are more people in the ditch since the roads often turn into skating rinks when the salt is unable to do its magic. No matter what your job, recreational preference or feelings about the cold, most would agree a warm fire goes a long way toward easing the spirits. And does a sauna feel any better than when the mercury hides in the bottom of the thermometer? The temps were rebounding Thursday but we’re not out of the woods yet. There’s more cold to come our way and that’s fine by me. I like to remember that there are no mosquitoes - a benefit of the cold we should keep in mind the next time the temperature drops. And the way things are going, that next cold snap is bound to be just around the corner. Better bundle up!

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