26 below zero? Nice!

It was minus 26 when I got up a little after 5 this morning to let the dogs out and get on with the task of filling a blog and it wasn’t lost on me that I was disappointed when looking at the smartphone thermometer.

We didn’t make it to 30 below, a nice round number and certainly more impressive than 26 below, even though I’m pretty sure I can tell no difference 4 degrees — or even 10 degrees at this point — makes.

Weather is exciting. Weather breaks up the monotony of Minnesota. Weather makes us something nothing else can make us: one.

It’s one of the few shared experiences we have left that doesn’t play to our instinct to wonder, “What’d you mean by that?”

I won’t miss the cold when the thermometer swings 75 degrees later this week and we return to being just a cold Omaha, but in short bursts, a sense of community is well worth the chill.

The streets were pretty sparse while I was giving rides around Minneapolis last night (note: weather does not make us tip). At the height of the wind, a man with his tote bag of groceries sprawled crossing a street in south Minneapolis, papers flew down the street. He struggled to get up but couldn’t.

Cars stopped, people jumped out and got him righted.

That probably would’ve happened anyway even if the weather wasn’t trying to kill us, but our priorities change with the heat and we turn more inward than outward.

In the cold, though, we hold doors for each other. We jump-start the batteries of strangers. We let the pedestrians cross against the light and think nothing of it because they’re out there and we’re safe in a car and, what the heck does it matter anyway? We think about what it must be like to be homeless.

We’re nicer this week and we got that way without terrorists having to ram jetliners into buildings like the last time we were all nice to each other because we realize we’re all in something together and we survive by taking care of each other.

True, we in the media are struggling to push out one more insipid weather angle for page view gold — “How to keep your gerbil from getting cabin fever” — and the cacophony of scolding for not dressing warmly enough is insufferable. But we’re all talking about it and we’re all obsessed with it and it feels good. Warm, even.

We slow down and put things off and realize that in the big scheme of things, the things we simply had to do can wait. The things that simply have to get done, don’t really have to get done.

While we’re all getting the pictures and posts from our friends and family off in warmer climates, it doesn’t matter. We’ve got something here they don’t have — each other.

The news this morning says it’s going to be “worse” today. I think not.

Come again, polar vortex, you’re good for us every once in awhile.