Cold Weather

Me and friends from Houston have gone skiing out west. We’d unzip jackets and even remove them. It was dry there. We weren’t the wimps we seemed.

Cold Weather
They can handle it.

We’re wimps when it comes to cold weather down here. We have our reasons.

Cold is unusual. Let’s start there.

We had months of 90-something highs day after day this past summer with the sun beating down. I walk our dog in the evening and pushed it back a bit, not to get a lower temperature, but to get more shade.

My 1966 Mustang convertible didn’t get out as much as it should.

And plants that lived for decades died from a lack of rain. We watered, but not enough.

The power bill soared. There was no shortage of sweaty T-shirts. The water bill went up from all the watering we did.

It was hot.

There was cold-weather clothing stowed somewhere. It wasn’t needed in the summer.

I moved to Houston in 1983.

I was working at KHOU-TV when I had a cold- weather epiphany.

It was going to be cold and there was a scattering of snow expected. The city shut down.

All sorts of schools and businesses were shutting down. I was in charge of keeping the list and doing on-air reports. My new hometown was running and hiding in the face of a tiny snowfall.

It took me time, a guy from Chicago, to understand.

Houston wasn’t prepared for this. Chicago had snowplows and enormous piles of salt and gravel. Chicago was used to this.

So when cold weather hits, it’s unusual and even dangerous.

But let’s take a moment to see a bigger picture. The electric grid froze a couple of years ago. It was below freezing for several days. Power was out for many, including me. Hundreds died.

The Texas power grid is not connected to neighbors. They can’t share if needed. Other states are connected and work with each other. But Texas balks.

If connected to other states, there’d be federal oversight. Can’t have that. People died.

And while we’re at it, Texas doesn’t tie in to the feds for Medicare coverage. It wouldn’t cost the state. Tens of thousands would have coverage. Lives would be saved.

Not in Texas.

We’re not entirely wimps here. Me and friends from Houston have gone skiing out west. We’d be out in the mountains, have lunch outside on a sunny day, while temperatures were in the low-20s.

We’d unzip jackets and even remove them. It was dry there, not humid. We weren’t the wimps we seemed.

But it’s humid here and cold weather cuts through you. Bundling in layers doesn’t always work. It’s colder.

I walk the dog nightly and pick what I wear.

Temperatures in the 50s? Parka. A Lands End Super Squall jacket. We don’t mess around. It’s cold and who knows what’s coming next.

40s? Where’s that scarf. And get those gloves. In the lower-40s, we might also grab the Mad Bomber hat with earflaps.

30s? Definitely Mad Bomber hat. And it might be clipped on the underside of the chin.

But it’s Houston. It’s humid. That changes things.

But that’s here.

The rest of the state isn’t so humid. Why are they cold weather wimps elsewhere in Texas?

That’s on them.

But maybe they’re wimps. Or at least wimpier than we are.

We have an excuse.

Bill Jeffreys has done radio, TV and print journalism and is now a high school teacher. He spent nearly 14 years as City Hall reporter for KHOU-TV in Houston. Jeffreys was editor of his high school paper, but the yearbook where he teaches is now his cross to bear.