Two “extra credit” readings I thought I’d share on such a cold cold day:
The first is really a letter to the editor/response to people in Minneapolis complaining about snow days/cold days for the public schools there. It’s from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, “Counterpoint: Why days off due to extreme cold are not ‘silly’.” It’s about K-12 schools of course, but I think the argument it makes about “cold” and class is compelling. For example:
It seems that some people are taking issue with all these “silly days off” from school because of the cold, including a recent letter writer who described them that way in noting that they give children the opportunity to fill the shopping centers (“Cold weather, hot retail: The impact of no school,” Jan. 25).
He must have had a vastly different experience than I have. I live inMinneapolis and work as a nurse for the Minneapolis public schools. My child attends a public school in Minneapolis. The cold we’ve experienced here has had the potential to be deadly.
Many of our students have parents who work at minimum- or low-wage jobs, so it is the students’ responsibility to get themselves up and dressed for school. Many students have younger siblings for whom they are responsible to wake up and help get dressed. Then they venture outside and walk to the bus stop. In Minneapolis, some students walk up to a mile to stand at a designated school bus stop. Often, in winter, they wait for some time before a bus arrives. Traffic can be detrimental to bus schedules; snow and especially cold also affect the most efficient schedules. So the students wait in the cold, too frequently with faces, hands, feet and ears exposed to the below-zero temperatures. As a school nurse, I know that children’s bodies are more vulnerable to the dangers of frostbite and its potentially debilitating results.
And then there’s this from Outside magazine from way back in 2004, “As Freezing Persons Recollect the Snow—First Chill—Then Stupor—Then the Letting Go.” It is an extremely well-written and compelling essay about what it’s like to freeze to death– or more accurately to almost freeze to death since (spoiler alert!) the author lives. This article was shared with me from a colleague who, after reading it, ended up buying more thermal underwear. Perhaps a sheer coincidence, but still.