February might be my least favorite month, but usually it had at least two things going for it. First, it stayed light past 5pm. Secondly, the weather was not as cold as January. This year I will have be satisfied with just the additional hours of daylight, because February is turning out to be the coldest month of the year. 

To be fair, it is not February’s fault. February 2021 might still end up being not much colder than normal as far as average temperatures go. The problem was January. This January was so mild that I let myself be lulled into thinking we might get through the winter without an Alberta clipper or polar vortex passing through. When a stretch of subzero weather hit last week, I was caught off guard. I’d even taken Jack in for a haircut, so now my well-groomed, but less insulated dog is cold because I thought this winter might be different from every other Midwestern winter in my lifetime. 

This morning I was Skyping with Manyu, and Jack jumped up on the table. When my wife saw our dog without his full blanket of fur, she immediately told me to go out and buy him a coat. I resisted. While Jack may be secure enough in his masculinity to be seen in public with silly clothes on, I, as his walker, was not. Rather than argue with Manyu 10,000 miles away, I agreed to go to the pet store and check out the options. As it turned out, there has been a run on clothes for dogs, and even the big box pet stores didn’t have anything I’d consider buying. All that remained on the shelves were tight gray pullover sweaters with little holes for the forepaws. They looked slightly less ridiculous than most clothes for animals, but had obviously been designed by someone who’d never tried to dress a dog. Jack is doing fine without a velcro garment strapped to his torso, and the coldest weather is now behind us.

I look forward to the daytime temperatures creeping back into the 20s. I am also glad we had ten days of frigid weather. Had we not had a cold spell this year, I would be more worried about climate change than I already am. 

Steven Simpson