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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

my first real winter...

As the cold front moves through, I remember when I moved out of Florida. There were a few amusing incidents involving my complete ignorance of what exactly cold weather is. You see, I grew up in South Florida. Yes, I am north of Miami, but not by much. Growing up down here, the coldest days I remember were the ones where there was frost on the (still green) grass when I had to go to school. Within a few hours of sunrise, all the frost would have melted.  A nice cotton sweater is probably the warmest bit of clothing I owned. That's what I considered winter weather. Yes, there was that one winter it froze so badly that it was still freezing at 10am, but even that didn't last the day. It was freak weather.

So, although I saw pictures of snow, and mentally knew it was cold, I still couldn't quite comprehend what it means to actually be that cold. It just didn't register. So, cue my moving north to snow country (anywhere it actually snows during the winter on an even semi-regular basis), and couple that with this complete incomprehension of actual cold weather, and yeah…that first year proved interesting (and probably gave people I interacted with more than a good laugh, I would guess). I moved up in May. I thought that would be great, allow me time to adjust once the cold did come. I would get to experience summer, then fall, then adjust to winter! Great!

Of course, you lovely folks that live there know that even though it's summer, that doesn't necessarily mean it will be warm. Of course, it could be broiling hot, with temperatures over 100F. Or, like happened to me that summer, it was a cool summer and temperatures were still in the 60s in July. July! This concept was so foreign to me, I felt like I'd moved to another planet!

So, I thought, HEY! I'll get ready for the winter and go get myself a winter coat. So, off too TJMaxx I went (yes, inveterate TJMaxx-whore here). They had all sorts of coats, and I tried on this simple black wool coat that reached down to my calves. Ooh, it was HOT! Ugh, get this thing off of me. Logically, I had seen people (on tv and in movies) wearing these coats. I probably needed it. But, that incoherence, that deep abiding ignorance of actual cold weather, persisted. Would I really need this? Naaaaah!! It can't be that bad, can it?? Luckily, I was wise enough not to trust my own mind, so I asked this girl that worked there.

"Hi, I just moved here, and I was wondering, will I really use a coat like this in winter?" (mind you, I had this incredulous tone, like again, Naaaah, won't really need it!)

She looked at me like I was from outer space.

"Where you from?"

"Florida."

"Oh, yeah. You'll definitely use it."

And with that, she quickly moved away lest my stupidity might somehow be catching. I bought the coat. I figured, hey, if you can't trust someone that lives here, who can you trust?  And boy, did that coat come in handy.

Work sent me to Minnesota at the beginning of December. Sometimes, I wonder if they did it on purpose. Hmm…who can we sent to the arctic of the U.S? Hey, I know! Let's send the Florida girl there! Yeah, that ought to be amusing!! har har.

I had looked at the weather forecast prior to my trip. With a forecast in the 20's, I was ready- had my coat, long johns, wool scarf, hat, gloves, boots, and wool socks ready. What I did not expect was the pilot to come over the intercom as we were landing and tell us the temperature was -27F with winds of whatever the hell they were and to cover any exposed skin because frostbite would occur in less than 5 minutes.

Wait…what??  Did I hear that right?? That's not possible, is it?? Nooooo… So he came back on and repeated it again. Yep, that would be negative 27 Fahrenheit (equals -32C)! And I was going out in that? Aw hell….

When it was time to get out of the airport to go to my rental car (which I couldn't understand why they would leave it outside, and not inside, in a nice covered garage),  I bundled up as best I could…I had my coat on, pulled my hat down as much as I could without covering my eyes, wrapped my scarf nice and tight and pulled it up over my mouth and nose…and….

I survived. I was there a week, listening to the radio warn parents not to let their children play outside without properly covering them. I was there a week, letting the car warm up before attempting to get inside. I was there a week, scraping the ice off the windows every morning. And I survived.

Actually, by the end of the week, it had warmed up to a semi-tropical -1F. I went for a walk. I even left the coat at home.

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