We shipped cattle early this morning. The thermometer read -20 degrees as I drove to the feed yard about 5:30am. My mind held an awareness of the cold because I knew it was there. I bundled up with layers of clothing and carefully covered my face with a mask.
But really, the phenomenon of temperatures like that provides an experience much bigger than layers of clothing.
The world seems different at -20 degrees.
Silent, unrelentingly harsh and yet beautiful at the same time.
Perhaps you have experienced this before?
- The air takes the description of raw and crisp to a new level.
- Sounds of the gates, the cattle moving, and the normal night noises are more distinct.
- The hardness of the ground pounds at your feet as you herd the animals to the corral.
I, at least, seem to have a higher level of acute awareness at -20 degrees.
- My cowboy laughed at me when I pointed out the small frost formations hanging from our steel pipe corral fence. They took me back to science class as they were similar in shape to the molecular models in my high school text books.
- I had to stop myself from reacting nervously each time the Union Pacific trains passed by on the tracks about ½ mile south of our corrals. Normally, I am desensitized to the sound of the trains; but they sound unnervingly strange at -20 degrees.
- Each step on the hard and unforgiving ground felt different and I noticed a clarity of movement in my own muscles that I often overlook.
Today I found a new level of perception. A bitter cold morning with blessedly no wind opened up a new prairie experience for me.
With 8 pens still to ship, I am left wondering what I will notice next?