This is what it just have felt like, long ago, when on a pleasant spring day the tranquility of your village was interrupted by a single horseman, an arrow protruding from his blood-caked leather vest, arrived at the town well and slipped from his saddle, barely able to mouth out the message he had spent himself to deliver: "The Mongols are coming."
That sense of a deadly and implacable force readying itself just over the horizon, moving inevitably toward you, is how we in the Old Dominion feel about the "polar vortex" that has already gripped much of the United States.
At the moment, we're warm by the standards of winter -- last night's rain washed away most of the snow, today is pleasant enough that you might skip the coat if you were only headed out for a few minutes. Somewhere in the region, a young man is almost certainly wearing cargo shorts. He looks like an idiot, but he's doing it, because there's always one guy like that.
He'll change his tune tomorrow.
The temperatures are expected to drop about 40 degrees F over the next few hours, to near-zero. The wind chill will make it feel like twenty-five below. It will still be warmer than places north and west of us, but it may be colder than the kids in our youth group have ever experienced in their lives. Some people will discover that their homes were not constructed or insulated to keep out that sort of cold. Cities and larger towns will set up warming centers, but many of the people who should got to them won't. A few people may die -- cold especially kills the old, the poor and the foolhardy.
We ourselves aren't all that concerned. Father Anonymous grew up in a moderately cold climate, and is certainly no stranger to zero-F temperatures. Wear layers, stay active, or stay inside by the fire. Sadly, attendance at the Epiphany service looks to be very small, but ... well, that would probably be true on a balmier night than this. (Hora novissima, tempora pessissima sunt, as Bernard of Morlaix so memorably put it.)
In any case, that's not what we came here to say this morning. No, we just wanted to point out that Polar Vortex would be a great super-villain name. Batman has Mister Freeze, the Flash has Captain Cold -- why shouldn't Green Lantern or, better yet, one of the faux Silver Age characters in Kurt Busiek's brilliant pastiche Astro City match wits with an ice-themed villain named Polar Vortex?
Oh, and one more thing. If you could only send back one Canadian import, would it be the polar vortex -- or Ted Cruz?