Remember those colorful icicles that dangled over Ralphie's back porch, when he dashed outside to try his new Red Ryder, carbine action 200 shot range model air rifle? I saw those icicles over the weekend above my mother's garage in Chicago.
Just as south Mississippi was being blanketed by the chilliest temperatures this year, I went to the Windy City, and braved a brrrrr-utally cold Arctic blast that dropped one thermometer to -24 degrees.
"Deliciously cold" was the phrase my mom came up with to describe Chicago's frigid forecast. I had a different phrase that probably shouldn't be in this blog.
Almost 900 miles south, the weather back home was nearly 50 degrees warmer. Yet, the same words -- frigid and cold -- were used to describe Ol' Man Winter's assault on south Mississippi.
That visit made me realize the word cold is a relative term.
For people across Mississippi, it was cold. After all, we don't get too many days when the mercury dips below freezing.
However, that same day, 155 startled passengers stood on the wings of a US Airways plane that was miraculously floating in the Hudson River. The air temperature in New York that afternoon was 22. The water temperature was 40. NOW THAT WAS COLD!
That night, Mom got home, and saw those icicles hovering over the entrance to her home. So she did what anybody who's lived in Chicago all their lives would do. She put on her gloves, grabbed a shovel, and chipped away at the menacing ice spheres. She didn't want them to suddenly fall and damage her windshield.
WAS SHE COLD? YES. DID SHE COMPLAIN? NOPE.
As for me -- I opened the house door that night, turned off the alarm and went upstairs. I had a cold, and though Mom probably needed help, I was too chilled to stand in the subzero temps any longer (I'm such a bad son).
Heck, I only put $15 of gas into my stepfather's car, because the pump was slow, and I was getting too cold to fill 'er up.
I used to revel in these teeth chattering moments. I loved the cold. As a kid, I played football and basketball in the snow. Suddenly, I was using the seat heater in the car to keep my toosh comfy. IT WAS DEFINITELY COLD IN CHICAGO.
I returned to the coast on Sunday. As my plane pierced a thin layer of clouds, the shiver that vibrated through me all weekend quickly melted away. A brilliant sunset with deep orange and red hues was just beyond the cloud tops.
It made me realize that while I love Chicago, I was glad to be heading back to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The temperature there was in the 40s. My wife was bound to have a fire in the fire place. Our home would be so cozy.
South Mississippi may get "cold" once in awhile. But at least down here, the chill disappears by lunchtime.