One thing that our trip to California and our quite recent experience with "WINTER STORM INGA" (should always be said in capitals - sounds more ominous) is that if civilization ever breaks down and it breaks down in winter, it will be abysmal.
We, in our modern mechanized and fueled age, take for granted that we are going to survive winter no differently than any other time of the year. We have heat, be it gas or electric or food. We have food - pretty much any kind of food we want - available within a fairly short period of time. And, we have both hot and cold water, blessedly unfrozen over. Our roads can get cleared, our power can come back up, our stores and gas stations easily get filled back up. It is a sort of magical Winter Wonderland where most of us get to dabble in the cold or get a little inconvenienced - but that is about it.
Driving the desert in a freezing ice storm - as we did a month ago - tells a different story indeed.
Imagine (as I did) living in one of those small towns, or even in a large city and the power dies. Everything becomes cold: very, very cold. If you are smart and/or fortunate, you have a wood burning fireplace and enough fuel to keep yourself. If not, things become very cold very quickly.
Transportation, like any sort of major disaster, will break down rather quickly - but Winter has the added benefit (above the snow line) of embedding people in place thanks to snow drifts. Now, many are cold, stuck, and do not have a way to heat themselves or cook. And the food and fuel fairies that always seem to restock things will be a million miles away.
And water - if you have lived cold enough, you know the briskness that water just below freezing acquires. Bathe or shower in that if you will!
No, winter without civilization quite quickly becomes a very savage and very terrible thing. I can (all too well) only visualize what it would be like to be cold all the time, hungry almost all the time, and always having to keep active to be about keeping warm and fed.
Our ancestors were up to this sort of thing - perhaps not enjoying it, but up to it. Most of us, not so much.
I look, somewhat in shock, at what a relatively benign ice storm does. And then, unfortunately, imagine the possibilities...