February has been cold. Yesterday was no exception. But when I asked my five- and three-year-old grandsons, Evan and Charlie, if they wanted to go outside, they were enthusiastic. It was snowing lightly, painting the already thick layer of snow with a fresh coat. The outside world looked enchanted—the kind of magic I remember from my childhood.
The temperature was in the low 20s, the winds about 11 m.p.h., and the windchill about 10°. The weather app on my phone doesn’t use the term windchill—the app and many weather channels now refer to windchill as “feels like.” Good for them, but I use the term windchill, and even the chill part of that sounds like a cover-up. Wind-polar-frozen-vortex-shatter-your-skin gets closer to the truth. “Feels like” is too nice. Think about it: That fabric “feels like” silk. The warm sun “feels like” gold. She “feels like” singing rainbows. “Feels like” is also used to soften a blow: She “feels like” crying—when what she really wants to do is throw a howling tantrum. (Just so you know, I’m not against all change. Unlike some people, I had no problem accepting Pluto being downgraded from a planet to a dwarf planet.)
After I bundled up my grandsons, I offered each one a scarf. Charlie wanted a one. He always does. Evan never wants one to start with, but sometimes, like yesterday, he changes his mind after being outside for a bit. I wish I would’ve taken a picture of them. Bundled up children are cuter than kittens curled up in a wicker basket. Plus, I could’ve shown off the scarves that I’d knitted. I don’t know how to knit anything else.
After sledding down the side hill for a while, Evan opened the back door and asked, “Nana, can we take the picnic table off the deck and put it on the big pile of snow?” It’s a small plastic table designed for preschoolers.
I said yes, but I didn’t ask why. It was a reasonable request, much more reasonable than last week when Charlie asked if he and Evan could go outside and play with the squirt guns. When I told him no, he didn’t think “It’s too cold outside” was a good explanation, and he wanted to debate the issue.
After my grandsons had been outside for an hour, nature flipped the switch on its wind machine from low to high. That’s how it happens—a flipped switch. You can stand outside and experience the exact moment the wind kicks up from fluttering to roaring. The sustained winds were 28 m.p.h. with gusts of 38 m.p.h. The temperature dropped to the low teens. The WINDCHILL dropped to 8° below. I love my weather app—so much detail. Remember when you called the phone company, and all you got were the time and temperature?
The weather details convinced me it was time to get my grandkids inside to avoid hypothermia or being hit by a falling branch from one of the trees in the backyard. Neither one of them wanted to come in, so I sweetened the deal by offering hot chocolate. Of course, it worked.
When they were taking off their outerwear, Evan stared at Charlie’s face and asked, “Are my cheeks as red as Charlie’s?” He was concerned.
I smiled and said, “Yes, your cheeks are as sweet and rosy as Charlie’s.”
Evan grinned. Something his nana described as sweet and rosy couldn’t be bad.
Outside the wind had the final word as it wailed, its breath bending tree branches back and forth to their breaking points.