Time to get out the great coatPublished 10:51am Wednesday, January 8, 2014
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The severity of the deep freeze that blanked much of the nation and brought 12-degree weather to Brookhaven Tuesday morning forced me to go to the hall closet and un-bag my huge green wool trench coat with the zipped-in double lining.
It was the first time I’d had it on in years. The “great coat,” as I call it, must weigh 10 pounds. It hangs down all the way to midway between my knees and ankles. Buried within this coat armor and wearing gloves and a knit cap, plus a wool scarf around my neck, I ventured out at 7 a.m. Tuesday, still none-too-warm, as the icy wind whipped through the carport.
While things did warm up a bit Tuesday afternoon (if you can call getting up into the 30s warm), as I write this column, I’m looking forward to donning “the coat” again Wednesday since we’re expecting lows in the teens again Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. I am already more than ready to bag the coat up and let it get back to its closet.
Daily Leader reporter Justin Vicory’s front-page photograph of the icicle-clad frozen fountain at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer Tuesday pretty much summed up the cold-clad state of the nation earlier this week. The only place in the eastern United States that was above freezing Tuesday was the bottom two-thirds of Florida.
I’ve spent my whole life living in Mississippi and Alabama, and I can’t remember having weather this cold for this long in many, many years. This week’s cold snap reminds me most closely of a freezing spell back when I was a child living in the country near Columbus, Miss. – a long, long time ago.
Back then, it had been so cold for so long that my friend Cynthia Penick’s family’s pond had frozen over with a thick slab of ice, so solid that the two of us were enjoying “ice skating” sliding around on the slick-soled plastic rain boots our mothers had made us wear to help stay warm.
Everything was going fine with our skating endeavors until Cynthia’s older brother noticed how much fun we were having and came over to join us in sliding around the pond. The extra weight was enough to make the ice start cracking, and we all had to slip-slide quickly back to the pond banks.
Long after that near brush with icy drowning, Cynthia’s brother Dennis went on to marry my older sister Barbara. They’re still happily together, and I have a niece and a nephew and lots of great nieces and nephews to be thankful for as well.
I think that was the only time I can remember seeing ponds freeze over in Mississippi, or in Alabama for that matter. This week may have come close up in Columbus though – the low there was 6 degrees Tuesday, and if things persist, that old pond, if it still exists, may be icing up again.
The National Weather Service in Jackson said many parts of Mississippi had record-breaking low temperatures Tuesday, including Eupora with 4 degrees, the lowest reading in the state.
Despite the bone-chilling nature of these temperatures, we’re still lucky here in the Magnolia State, compared to other parts of the nation.
Reporter Justin, who spent his early years in Chicago, was showing off photos of his old hometown Tuesday where ice was heavy and temperatures were down at minus 16 degrees – yes, that’s 16 below zero.
And we thought we were cold.
Rachel Eide is editor/general manager of The Daily Leader. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.