Much of Canada and the USA have spent the past week in the deep freeze. From unprecedented snowfalls to dangerously low temperatures, it’s pretty clear that winter is making its presence known. The most common phrase I’ve heard around the city this week is “IT’S SO COLD!”
When running some errands earlier this week, I was thinking about all of the ways we use the word “cold” in the English language. We use it to describe temperatures, temporary illnesses, and even fellow human beings.
Cold is probably one of the only states of being that incorporates all five senses. Because cold – in all its permutations – has a sound.
Sure, you can feel it in the numbness of your fingers as you run from heated vehicle to heated building.
You can taste the sweetness of an ice cream on your tongue.
You can see your breath make clouds in front of your face on the coldest day you can remember.
You can smell the most recent dusting of snow on the ground – or, if you have a cold, you wish you could.
But we often overlook the sound of cold, of coldness.
It’s the sound of packed snow and ice under heavy boots. The wheezing of reluctant automobiles to get moving. Chattering teeth and quick breaths and stomping feet.
If you’re “under the weather” (a term I will investigate at some point) and have a cold, it’s the sound of sniffling and Kleenex and mangled consonants. Of dropped voices and weary tones.
But what about “cold” people? Do they have a telling sound?
I think they do.
It’s the sound of despair. Of idle or indifferent chit-chat that purposefully goes no deeper than the surface. Of prejudice wrapped in the trappings of well-meaning “compliments”.
Would I have noticed these things if I’d focused on my tingling fingers or chattering teeth or stuffy nose or personal frustrations?
Sometimes, it’s fun to discover – or maybe re-discover – something I hadn’t considered before.