|The survival times, I admit, aren't very clear; I haven't|
yet sorted out my thinking on these. See it as a
placeholder for the present, please.
The thermometer as we know it wasn't invented until 1714, by the Dutch scientist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit. Prior to that, there were devices that had been developed and used by scientists, notably Galileo and Giuseppe Biancani, but even as various thermometers were created throughout the latter half of the 17th century, there was no standardized scale. Moreover, these were either curiousity pieces or objects specific to scientists and laboratories. No peasant or common townsfolk ever saw a thermometer or imagined they would ever relate the relative feel of the air to such a device.
For that reason, I've been challenged to build, memorize and convey a system to persons who are so rigidly based in measured thinking where it comes to weather, including myself. It is virtually impossible to get a pure description of weather that doesn't turn to the thermometer to produce clarity, so that it's been uphill to explain what frosty, icy or wintry temperature "feels like," in a way that doesn't require me to say, "Oh, you know, like -6 degrees celsius."
On the whole, my goal of creating pages for each temperature grade has been a bust. The language isn't there, the information isn't there ~ and there doesn't seem to be anyone left to contemplate that for most of human history, people never used the word "degree" to describe the weather. It makes me wonder what that must have been like, given that I can't find any extant documents before the 16th century that discusses the "feel" of the weather in any fashion (science seems to have discovered weather in the late 1500s). We mention storms and winter and such, and sometimes someone will say it was a nicer summer than summers past, but there's no effort at all to actually, and at length, describe any such phenomenon. When that comes, everyone rushes to measuring the weather; it is obviously too subjective to meaningfully describe.
Try it. Sit down and try to write three sentences that could apply to weather that's "icy," as defined above, that can't be mistaken for "wintry" or "frosty" [without using degrees, obviously] ... and yet you know perfectly well from the measurement that it is a distinctly different weather.
Even here, when I've brought up the subject on the blog, mentions of the subject have landed with a silent thud. I seem to be alone in my curiosity about this, and certainly alone in any compulsion to address the matter in D&D terms.
I'll bet that the first thing you turn to if you try to describe weather is the clothing you'll wear. No good, that's cheating. I said describe the weather, not your tactics for dealing with it. We can recognize the Americans by how much they're wearing here in the spring. I remember a story that my uncle from Saskatchewan went to Las Vegas one winter ~ and was stopped by the cops there because he was wearing shorts and a t-shirt when the weather was only 58 degrees! They thought my uncle had to be drunk.