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phesant.jpg

I snapped this picture around noon today. Before then this pheasant was huddled in the bushes near our house. But almost every day around noon, he flies into the branches of this crab apple tree for lunch.

The cool thing about this tree is that the crab apples don’t drop off and it’s smack in front of a large picture window. So eventually, if we’re paying attention, we get to see all kinds of hungry winter wildlife.

If the little apples are still hanging on when the robins come back, they gang up on the poor tree and it’s bare in an hour. It’s kind of spooky in an over the top Alfred Hitchcock kind of way.

But I think this pheasant is the coolest thing–in more than one way–because when I snapped this picture today, the temperature had only climed to -10 degrees. And that was about as warm as it ever got.

It’s about 15 degrees below zero as I write this, but it’s only 7:30 p.m.. It’ll drop another 10 before it’s over. That’s right, we’re looking at a low of close to (if not colder than) -25 degrees Fahrenheit. And the wind is stiff out of the north.

The news reported a high temp of -6 for today, but that was in the Twin Cities. It was easily 5 degrees colder than that here. We won’t see zero tomorrow either.

Meteorologists are saying this is the coldest stretch of weather we’ve had in 10 years. Last week temps struggled to reach 20. This week looks much colder. It might warm to highs above zero Tuesday and then creep slowly warmer as the week progresses until Friday we may reach 20 for a high again.

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about that. Obviously, part of me doesn’t like it. It’s dangerous. But there’s another part that is kind of excited by it. I’ve enjoyed the recent winters because they haven’t been too painful. But there’s little adventure in that.

With the right attitude, the knowlege that when you step outside any exposed skin will freeze in 8 minutes is kind of thrilling. Which, I think, explains the behavior of most of the people I ran into on my errands today. The weather was certainly the main topic, but I didn’t hear a soul complain about it. If anything, I think most people I ran across were rooting for the temps to drop even lower.

Indeed I even felt a twinge of embarassed disapointment to find that we never even got close to the record low for the date–which was -26.

The days are getting longer, the sun is getting higher and it won’t be long before I’m filling up the portable pool from Menards. Along with more daylight, average highs are starting to creep up as well. So despite dangerous windchills tonight, it looks like we’ve turned a corner–on paper anyway. 27 is today’s average high. 7 is the average low.

I’ve got on my long underwear, am (perhaps foolishly) optimistic my drain field won’t freeze, and so far both cars are starting and running fine once they get warmed up. So no complaints here.

Talk to me at the end of the week though. The flu’s pretending to be the grim reaper and is knocking on quite a few doors around here. Everyone is getting hit with something. It’s even been in my own house, causing untold pain and suffereing even as I write this.

Is it reasonable to expect that I’ll slip through the cracks and stay healthy another week?  Will the cars continue to run?  Will school officials find -20 too cold for kids to wait for busses and cancel school on Monday?  Will we still be able to flush our toilet with confidence this time next week?

Finally–the chills have put the thrills back into winter.