Brain freeze

Most people are familiar with “brain freeze“, that incredibly painful headache which occurs after ingesting ice cream or some other very cold foodstuff or beverage. The frequent and sharp cold snaps in this area are causing brain freeze of a different kind. People get headaches when they see the upcoming weather forecasts, or hear the incessant grumbling about the cold, and then their brains “freeze” or go numb to better cope. Cabin fever is nearly at pandemic levels. Some of the luckier souls booked flights to warmer areas. Those left to brave the arctic blasts piled on extra clothes and extra portions at meal time.

It gets cold in the upper Midwest during winter. Minnesota does not have a monopoly on mind-boggling and face-numbing wind chills, but for the past week, most of the coldest air keeps finding its way here. The East Coast is getting the brunt of the snow, but we’re taking on the cold. For example, Lucy’s hometown of Embarrass registered -41°F yesterday morning. About an hour later, Cotton reported -42°F. Those readings were air temperature, not wind chill. When it gets that cold, a barely perceptible breeze creates about ten extra degrees of wind chill cooling.

Some species, most famously bears, hibernate when it gets cold, but not all creatures have that luxury. Even though it was -12°F yesterday morning, a fox and a rabbit playing out the ancient saga of hunter and hunted created a ruckus audible inside the house. After a few seconds of zig zagging though the backyard and kicking up snow plumes, both parties exited the property by slipping through the three-inch gap between the gate and the gate post at full speed, though it appeared the rabbit did have a fraction of a second advantage. That meant the fox probably did not get dinner and a fur stole for its efforts. By noon the temperature rose above zero and a few squirrels ventured out looking to add to their larders. Chickadees and cardinals flitted about looking for a meal and a mate. Apparently, hunger and hormones clear brain freeze quickly.

For humans, not so much: I wish I had a nickel for every time I saw someone dressed in a parka, shorts and sandals yesterday afternoon. Most of the sightings were near the University of Minnesota campus, which is probably not the best advertising for its undergraduate and graduate education programs. Acts of defiance are effective only with proper forethought and belief conviction. Risking frostbite while auditioning for the Darwin Awards while hoping it goes viral on the social medium du jour merely proves cognitive dissonance.

If the number of vehicles dropping through the ice on lakes statewide is any indication, spring is on its way. The days are getting longer, the intense cold snaps are not lasting as long, and baseball spring training games start in under two weeks. Hope springs eternal, if you will pardon my pun. My management training included hearing the truism “hope is not a strategy” ad nauseam, but hope provides the starting point for a strategy. Hope is the engine that inspires a person to set a goal and devise a plan to achieve that goal. If one’s hopes pin on winning the lottery, one must first buy a ticket. Hope for the best, plan for the worst, and the result will always be somewhere in between.

Stay warm if your area is in the deep freeze. Good luck and be careful while clearing snow if your area is getting buried. No matter where you are, give your special someone an extra-long hug and enjoy the warmth. It helps thaw brain freeze faster than wearing a parka and shorts.

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