Word For The Day: Ingalls

Ingalls – (Noun) A unit of measure by which all winter blizzards can be compared.

In the 1930’s Laura Ingalls Wilder published several books commonly known as the “Little House” series.  The most famous of them, Little House On The Prairie, is #6 on book club for men and if you haven’t read it (or preferably the whole series) you’ve done yourself a disservice.  The whole point of America’s westward expansion in the 1800’s was to produce the experiences later outlined in Little House On The Prairie.

You may think you’re too darned intelligent and mature to read a children’s book but you’re not fooling anyone.  You’ve already read Harry Potter and the Hunger Games so get off your damn high horse about “kid’s fiction”.  Read it.  Now!  I’m saying this for your own good.  Once you’ve read Little House On The Prairie you will never bitch about your fat luxurious modern lifestyle again.  Also, forget about the derivative TV show which aired from 1974-1983.  The TV show is to the book as dogshit is to pie.

During the many adventures of the Ingalls family, mother nature periodically tries to kill them.  Throughout the series, humble yet heroic father figure “Pa” Ingalls must venture outdoors in weather so bad that an American in 2013 wouldn’t consider it safe to don a Gore Tex jacket to go start the Subaru.  In particular “The Long Winter” will have you giving your furnace a bear hug and promising to never ever venture into South Dakota after August. “Pa” valiantly braves the elements and invariably survives (sorry for the spoiler but you had 78 years to read it before today) but each time he heads off into the teeth you know his world is one of risk and sacrifice.  You modern coddled wuss!

In honor of “Pa” I propose the “Ingalls” as the best unit of measure  for quantifying real winter weather.  This is also my formal rejection of that flaky crap where people start quoting wind chill factors and stripping Wal-Mart shelves bare when three flakes of snow fall in New Jersey.

A full Ingalls is when the weather simultaneously meets three criteria:

  1. It must be cold.  I’m talking about the kind of cold where every inch of your body that is not covered in wool is sure to fall off.  Going outdoors without a hat is an unthinkable mistake you’d only make once.  Here’s a hint; -10 Fahrenheit is enough to make your car hard to crank but it isn’t cold enough for a full Ingalls.
  2. It must be violent, particularly with blowing snow approaching a white out.  Here’s a hint; if you’re in a blizzard and hold up your hand in front of your face and can’t see it, that’s an Ingalls.
  3. It must be long lasting.  I’ve been in many gale force winds and massive snow accumulations that burn out in an hour.  A full Ingalls requires that you must have time to ponder your situation, mutter a hymn or two, and make peace with your maker all before the storm is halfway to it’s crescendo.

Examples of Ingalls used in a sentence:

  • “I always thought it was goofy to tie a rope between the house and barn lest I die in a white out, but yesterday was a 0.8 Ingalls storm.  I barely made it.”
  • “Last night’s storm was rough.  There’s a tree across the driveway and a hen froze solid right to the barn door.  It was at least a 7th of an Ingalls.”
  • “We’re having a 0.6 Ingalls storm.  The ice fishermen gave up because it was too cold.  My dog is missing and the mail hasn’t come since last Tuesday.”
  • “The weather predicted Armageddon but it was only a 0.1 Ingalls.  My relatives from Virginia all fled in terror and the SUV won’t start but it wasn’t that bad.”
  • “New York City was hit by a 0.005 Ingalls snow flurry last week.  It was said to be caused by George Bush, high capacity magazines, and global warming.  Roughly 40% of the population immediately died of hypothermia.  Survivors demanded a cash settlement from FEMA.  The New York Times devoted the entire front page to an article about a unemployed one legged black lesbian poet who’s cat died.  Their opinion page stressed the urgent need for Federally funded cat death counselors.  Countless fatalities were traced to trendsetters who hunkered down by the thousands at Starbucks.  Apparently their overcrowded state upset the balance of nature and they collectively overdosed on irony.  This had no effect on the economy.”
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About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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2 Responses to Word For The Day: Ingalls

  1. MaxDamage says:

    I live about 15 miles from the Ingalls homestead in DeSmet, SD, and I heartily second the motion.

    The temps are colder in Alaska, true, but it’s the winds on these high plains that make the winter rough and dangerous. Surviving, as Pa did, in layered woolen clothes is possible — look at Edmund Hillary and his treks to both Everest and the anartic (which, the latter was done with little Ferguson tractors, very similar to your Fordson and which are still soldiering on today). Heavy Carhartt’s make it warmer, but they won’t see for you in a whiteout.

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