Battling the Polar Vortex

Warm things to think about while the tip of your nose freezes and falls off.

The only good thing about cold weather is that it makes us appreciate warm weather more. To me that sounds a lot like the boy who beat himself on the head with a hammer because it felt so good when he stopped. Whatever. Here are seven warm thoughts for a cold winter’s day.

Shot with Sony DSC-H1 at f/4, 1/500 sec, ISO 64. ©Jon Sienkiewicz • Beach image at top shot with Pentax K-3, Pentax 55-300mm zoom set at 150mm at f/9, 1/640 sec, ISO 200. ©Jon Sienkiewicz

1. Pitchers and Catchers Report
Come mid-February, professional baseball players will be rolling into Arizona and Florida for Spring Training. Pitchers need a bit more time to reach playing condition, according to conventional wisdom, so they report about a week before the other players. Catchers join them, of course, because a pitcher without a catcher is as useless as one walkie-talkie.

Shot with Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 at f/2, 1/20 sec, ISO 400. ©Jon Sienkiewicz

2. Trout Season
Trout season opens on April Fool’s Day in New York, and for good reason. Although I am an avid fisherman, I never join the crowds on opening day because I have an aversion to being fishhooked by a total stranger. But I usually drive over to the river to watch the army of once-a-year anglers who spend more dollars on their waders, nets and fly rods than the GDP of Madagascar.

Shot by Maya Sienkiewicz with Pentax Optio P70 at f/5.8, 1/25 sec, ISO 64. ©Maya Sienkiewicz

3. Crocus in Bloom
These members of the Crocoideae subfamily are sometimes called the “harbingers of spring,” and appear in March except for one confused cluster of blubs growing near the clothes dryer exhaust port on the backside of my house; those pop up in February. Interesting word, harbinger. It comes from a word that described the advance man for an army who went ahead of the troops to arrange shelter and food. Sort of like when your neighbor stops by unannounced and then signals for his family when he sees steak on the Weber.

Doves (not robins, I know) observed in Osaka, Japan with Canon EOS 40D, Canon 200mm f/4 at f/11, 1/1600 sec, ISO 500. ©Jon Sienkiewicz

4. Robins
I think robins are terribly underrated. Although they’re a sure sign of spring, we treat them like the guy who leaves the party to get more beer—they’re a hero when they return, but only for five minutes or so.

Shot with Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon 200mm f/4 at f/8, 1/640 sec, ISO 1000. ©Jon Sienkiewicz

5. Butterflies
Ever wonder why these large flying insects are called “butterflies?” They weren’t always. They used to be called “Flutter Bys” which makes one hell of a lot more sense. Somewhere along the line, someone got cute with their name and now they sound like airborne dairy products. Anyway, they make worthy photo subjects.

Shot with Olympus E-410, Zuiko 14-42mm at f/5.6, 1/25 sec, ISO 100. ©Jon Sienkiewicz

6. Beach
I find the beach to be much like a habanero pepper: beautiful to look at, but best tolerated in very small doses.

Shot with Sony Alpha DSLR-A100, prototype Minolta 28-75mm zoom at f/6.3, 1/400 sec, ISO 100. ©Jon Sienkiewicz

7. Summer Breeze
Memories of dozing on the sofa near an open window, listening to the Cubs being pummeled on WGN radio. Driving in my Camaro with the windows down because the AC didn’t work. Standing in the long line at the Dairy Queen, waiting to buy a cone full of pleasure that always started melting before I made it back to the car. There’s something special about the summer breeze.

Stay inside. Change the batteries in your smoke and CO detectors. Call the friends you haven’t seen in years, especially if they live in a warmer climate and there’s a chance they’ll ask you to come visit. Remember that your pets are closer to the ground where it’s usually colder. And drink your Wild Turkey 101 without ice just to show the Polar Vortex who’s boss.

—Jon Sienkiewicz