I have a house thermometer, but it’s a cheap one. It only goes down to zero degrees. I also have a good, Northeast Kingdom thermometer that goes down to minus 60, but that one’s nailed to the outside wall of my milk house, a good hundred yards away across my dooryard and the paved road. Entirely too far from my kitchen door, in other words, to just casually “go check” on an early, arctic morning like this one. Especially before coffee — because in such cold as this, the trip requires dressing up:
I put on bibs, boots, a parka, two hats, a hoodie, mittens and a neck gaiter stretched out and pulled up over my nose and mouth. No, I don’t use a stylist, but still, I’m quite the production on a very cold morning. Certainly not something to be undertaken before coffee.
So I bought me a freezer thermometer. It’s one of those little metal-cased stand-up deals, the kind you can set down into the chest freezer to keep an eye on things when you’re putting up your garden haul or cooling down your deer parts to over-winter.
This freezer thermometer goes down to 20 below, which is plenty for most purposes. Enough, for instance, to help a girl decide whether to go do barn chores before coffee, or to wait. It’s enough, also, for the more casual, conversational user, who just likes to have weather news to share at the general store when she stops in before work.
Last night I set my freezer thermometer out on the kitchen porch, because all week Sharon Meyer on the Channel 3 weather has been promising us some deadly cold for Saturday night. The polar vortex is on a nostalgia tour this weekend, and was set to swing through our area on Valentine’s Eve.
This morning I got up at 4 am to drain my dog and get the day going. I stepped out after him to check the temperature and darned if that little freezer thermometer wasn’t pegged — and pegged hard — at minus 20. I know it’s cold, but now I can’t know how cold until I go out to do barn chores and check the good thermometer. But that must wait til after coffee, at the very least. And by then, I expect, the cold will have eased some.
So: for all my preparation, for all my interest in how cold it got, and my investment in intelligence gathering, I guess I will never know.