A cold snap hit this week, with flesh searing temperatures reaching sub -30 degrees Celsius with the wind chill. Bundling up for commuter walks becomes an art – or an obsession. Dog walks become brief back yard visits, bare canine foot pads carefully protected by small felt dog boots. Nature manifests as the Adversary. Beware the traveller who wanders from the known path!
Accompanying a dog on a nocturnal backyard visit, I am distracted from the seeping cold by the stars’ silent vigil overhead. The calmness of the winter scene settles around me. A muffled crack! fills the air, and another. The sentinel row of spruce standing by a neighbour’s house is popping in the cold, instantly transporting me to the novel I am reading, featuring vivid descriptions of a storm of mythic proportions – a storm for a mythical land.
Stephen King’s recent gunslinger book, The Wind Through the Keyhole, includes storytelling of fantastical weather more extreme than what I am experiencing – a comforting perspective:
The starkblast comes suddenly, you ken. One moment you’re warm as toast—because the weather always warms up before—and then it falls on you, like wolves on a ruttle of lambs. The only warning is the sound the trees make as the cold of the starkblast rolls over them. A kind of thudding sound, like grenados covered with dirt. The sound living wood makes when it contracts all at once, I suppose. …”
“The temperature can fall to as much as forty limbits below freezing in less than an hour,” Roland said grimly. “Ponds freeze in an instant, with a sound like bullets breaking windowpanes. Birds turn to ice-statues in the sky and fall like rocks. Grass turns to glass.” …
[T]he extreme peril of his situation announced itself in a series of low, thudding explosions. “What’s that?”
“Trees on the far side of the Great Canyon,” Daria said. “Extreme rapid temperature change is causing them to implode. Seek shelter, Tim.”
The starkblast—what else?