Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

February 5, 2014

ABACUS COLUMN: Cold weather…grin and bear it

By Larry Backus
Sun contributor

CROSSVILLE — Most of the United States has experienced record breaking temperatures this January of 2014. For those without heat, proper protection, and the very young or elderly the cold is not welcome and could be life threatening. Those of us keeping warm and toasty need to be aware of those in need and respond in kind. For everyone, a sense of humor, frontier fortitude and survival instincts need to be applied. At least until our heating bills arrive in February and we are really numbed.  

Some cities or parts of the world suffer as targets for humor due to their cold weather. For instance: “In Buffalo, suicide is redundant," (A Chorus Line). Conversely, warm areas attract people because of their more favorable weather: As magician James Randi noted, “I moved to Florida because you don’t have to shovel water."

A friend of mine from up north, who is some years my elder and has an incorrigible sense of humor, sent me an email during the coldest days of January, and I quote:

 “The weathermen say the temperature is going to drop to extreme levels tonight, and everyone should check on the elderly and senile…Are you OK???"

His email brought a chuckle and a bit of warmth. I will try to follow his lead. Here are a few newspaper headlines to consider:

"Weathermen in shock; it’s as cold as they predicted!"

"Super Bowl canceled due to injuries from frozen footballs!"

"Florida Spring Break moved to Anchorage, Alaska beaches!"

"Alabama tide frozen!" 

Weathermen all over the country continue to smile while they deliver the news of arctic temperatures, ice and snow. Their smiles may fade if they ever receive a messages like one did; “As usual, your message stinks!” Then there is the defensible definition of a weatherman as "someone who knows less than he thought he did." 

Another approach at humor is to answer the age old question “How cold is it?”


It’s so cold a squirrel knocked on my door and offered a bag of nuts for a nights lodging.    

It’s so cold my wife’s knees are knocking and I keep opening the front door.

It’s so cold there are two kinds of travelers, the stranded and the frozen.

It’s so cold everyone is staying home and snuggling, they just can’t feel it!

It’s so cold I saw a deer trying to build a fire with flint and antler.

It’s so cold Southern Living ran an article about ski lodges down south.

It’s so cold Good Housekeeping initiated a new magazine, Cold Housekeeping.

I trust you will sympathize with my feeble attempts at cold weather humor. It is what happens when it is too cold to play golf, which fortunately does not happen often here in sunny Fairfield Glade, TN. In spite of the recent cold, this is the place where all of those northerners and southerners keep moving to. Even the robins and bluebirds have come north earlier this year. A male robin was overheard discussing the weather with its spouse recently in Venice, FL. “Mabel, we may as well head north early for Tennessee; it is nearly as cold here and Fairfield Glade has the best golf and worms!”