I brace myself as I walk up the stairs to the sidewalk. Whoosh! Instantly, I feel immersed in the deep freeze. I pull my coat a little tighter and wrap my scarf around my head, as if I’m living in the Middle East. Rather than a silk head scarf, it’s wool I’m swaddling around my head in a valiant attempt to keep my ears from becoming numb from the sub-zero temperatures.
The original plan for our night out to the Colorado Symphony to see Handel’s Messiah was to take the RTD bus from Boulder to Denver and grab the MallRide bus down the 16th Street Mall. On any other Saturday night with just “normal” temperatures for mid-December, the Mall is teeming with people out for a fun Saturday night on the town in LoDo, short for Lower Downtown in Denver. LoDo is filled with restaurants, bars and shops to provide entertainment for the hipster crowds out on the town.
And on any other Saturday night, the MallRide free bus would be coming along every five minutes to allow those revelers a chance to hop on the bus to get where they are going.
But this is not any Saturday night in Denver, it is the coldest Saturday night so far this winter by a long shot. It may turn out to be the coldest Saturday night in Denver all winter. Despite what folks from other parts of the country think of Colorado, Denver is really not all that cold during the winter. In fact, many a January or February day, highs can rise up toward sixty degrees. Even average temperatures are more around the freezing 32-degree mark.
But a cold front sinking down from Canada has put Denver in the deep freeze, dumping up to 12 inches in various parts of the city and sinking temperatures south of 0 degrees.
Normally a night in the city is cause celebre for me to break out my girly dresses, a chance to wear high heels and lace. But I’m no fool — I know bare legs will freeze, and high heels will send me for a header on snowy sidewalks. Instead, I compromise. I still wear a long skirt, but instead don knee-high boots over tights with a long, thick wool coat over the top. Despite this, I can still feel the cold permeating between my knees, sending a chill up my spine literally.
There is no Mall Ride — drat! I am counting on the Mall Ride, because otherwise, we will be walking 10+ blocks to the Performing Arts Complex. Standing is worse than walking at this point because remaining still means cold fingers and toes in a matter of seconds. So, instead we set out to walk, thinking a bus will come along soon.
I feel like a penguin scurrying along the snowy sidewalk — my bundle of coat and the slick sidewalks make it difficult for me to take more than a few small steps at a time. I chant a mantra — Keep moving, keep moving — as we cover one city block.
The Mall is deserted with only an occasional couple bundled up scurrying the other way. Then I spy a young woman with a mini skirt and bare legs showing. Yikes! This is the difference between being twentysomething and middle-aged. Comfort wins out when you are older and married, and not so concerned with looking good.
The brisk walking does have one bonus – I have managed to keep my toes and fingers from going numb. Finally, we reach Curtis street and can see the Arts Complex within sight — we are there!
Upon returning back to Boulder at around midnight, temps have now sunk to -8 degrees. I feel like we have survived a brief visit to northern Alaska on this brisk Colorado night. Time to head home to the warmth of a wood stove and a down comforter…