Yes it IS winter!! Local people are heavily complaining about this being a "really bad", "extremely cold", and countless other exclamations describing this winter. At the same time, wedged between the arctic blasts, there are days that are almost hot. My memories of winters past make the cold temps seem almost normal. Well, normal based on my childhood at least (which was a few years back).
Having grown up on a small dairy, my winter daily routine often included breaking thick ice on the stock ponds so the cattle could drink. Yes, I did say daily, and yes, I did say thick. We had an old chopping axe we sued for this purpose, and it was a hard job chopping through, even when I was older. This routine would begin in early December and last through much of February. Though temps have been really cold this winter, chopping ice would not be needed daily (if I had cattle). With frequent warm days, some in the 70 degree range, the ice is intermittent.
What IS worse than I remember, is the roller coaster ride the temps are taking and the wind. Sunday (1/26) the high was just over 70 degrees, Monday was very windy and a high in the low 20;s, with some predictions of single digits for nighttime low. It has been up and down like that all winter so far.
Problem is that the cold seems extreme here, mainly because over the past 30 years or so it has been pretty mild. Sure there have been cold times, some with ice storms or deep snow. This has happened occasionally but briefly every winter, Just enough to remind us what season it is, only to warm back up for prolonged periods. Being used to the warmth, the contrast is brutal..
Now, to find the good in all of this. For one, the repeated freezing and thawing of the ground helps loosen the soil, hopefully leading to a good growing season. There is also the consideration of how well insect pests survive the extremes. Grasshoppers have been a real and increasing problem the past few years, so we will hope the harsh winter helps knock down their population. I am sure there are other positive considerations that don't currently come to mind (please let us know in the comments if you think of any). Hopefully, there is enough positive to offset the cold cracked fingers, the inconvenience of heavy winter coats, broken pipes, extra animal feed and all the other negative aspects.
All in all, whether it is colder, warmer, windier, or more of a roller coaster ride than "normal" is not really the concern. Whatever else this winter is, was, or will be, right now it is JUST PLAIN COLD. So stay warm and remember, it will be summer soon, and we can complain about the heat.