Early morning winter cold floods in through the gaps between the sheet and mattress. The cold is so powerful, so penetrating, I imagine it to be as fluid as a rushing river with the ability to seep into minute cracks and crevices. In the chaos of adjusting the comforter and pulling the pillow into my impromptu cocoon, my sleep-hat has gone AWOL. An instinctual desire to escape the cold and fortify the barrier makes me abandon any pursuit of the lost headpiece.
A new form of low temperature has erupted in Minnesota, a reverse volcano maybe. Not a temperature so high it melts rock, but one so powerfully low it could probably fracture silk. This kind of cold, the kind that cracks house rafters, and spiderwebs the smallest chip in a windshield, has blown in from the north. Weather enthusiasts call it a Polar Vortex — something about the North Pole, and cold, and pressure. But at five o’clock in the morning in northern Minnesota, those technical, and normally interesting, scientific truths can crawl into a snowbank as far as I am concerned. Whether it’s a vortex, or cyclone, or Voldemort’s Dementors unleashed, the only truth that encapsulates this moment is something I learned years ago: “cold is the absence of heat.”