Monday, January 28, 2013

It's f-ing cold out there

Even for New England standards. You know, the bone-chilling, freeze-your-face-off, wear-two-layers-of-wool-socks, can’t-bear-to-be-outside kind of cold.  When my iPhone temperature app tells me it’s 3 degrees outside (and we’re not talking in Celsius), I start to question my sanity in living here.  To be honest, around this time every year, I question my sanity.

You’ve got to realize, I grew up in the hot, humid, languorous deep south.  Where spring and summers regularly reach the 90s with close to 100% humidity (is that even possible?), and this sultry weather stretches from April to October.  A “cold winter day” might be a day in the 40s.  Snow happens about every decade or so, a light dusting that sends cars spinning out of control on the highways and everyone home for a “snow day.”

So imagine the weather culture shock of moving here, for seemingly…forever.  It’s not just the temperature, people, it’s the associated lifestyle, complete with winter gear.  When I met my husband (b&r here), he set me straight in my southerner ways.  Why was I so cold all the time?  It turns out, I didn’t have the required gear—not just any coat, hat, mittens, boots—it was a whole sub-culture of brands, materials, fabrics...After more than five years of winter re-education, I am completely outfitted: the full-body length down parka with hood, ski mittens, two pairs of snow boots, one completely waterproof (for those “wintry mix” days), thick cashmere scarf and wooly hat.  I am completely unrecognizable when I go out, covered from head to toe.  And then with that wind chill last week, bringing temperatures to -20 below, I threw on another layer (or two) and wrapped another thick wool scarf around my face.  I was a veritable Eskimo bundle, with only my eyes peering out into the icy cold.

My husband is a perennial optimist.  He loves the autumn—the fall colors, the briskness in the air, the anticipation of the holiday season.  I just get grouchy, because to me, fall means there’s at least six months of cold and bundling up to come.  He loves the winter, and often extols the beautiful cold winter days or even the beauty of a blizzard.  He never quite got my discontent, until I explained to him recently, “look, just imagine spending the rest of your life in New Orleans, anticipating living in six months of hot, sticky, humid weather every year.”  To a guy who gets sweaty and uncomfortable just remembering a recent trip to my parents house in the “less hot” September (daily temps in the 90s), it finally sunk in.  “Oh geez,” was all he said, and I could swear I saw beads of perspiration gather on his brow.

So I look at my kids, who have spent their entire lives in this icebox, and I wonder what their climate inclinations will be.  For now, they don’t mind getting bundled (little miss in particular loves the whole “dress-up” accessories aspect of it), and they love the cold, because that means snow, and with that comes fun and frolic, snow angels, and snow balls...but last week was the first time I heard them both complain that it was cold.  To be honest, it was pretty f#$%^&^*cold, even for this particular icebox.   And to believe I was complaining that it was 50 degrees a couple of weeks ago while we on vacation in New Orleans? For shame.

Because quite honestly, you know that your standards have changed, when today seems balmy in the 30s.  You might as well call it a heat wave.


  1. My parents live in south Florida, but spent most of their lives in the Northeast. If it dips below 60 it is basically freezing to them. They don't know what hit them when they come up here and it is in the 40s - how can we go outside in this weather? Because 40 is not cold to a Bostonian.

    Thought of your post when I saw it will be 56 tomorrow! Now that is a heatwave :)

    1. There WAS a heat wave this past week. I even shed my down blanket I call winter jacket for 24 hours. Sadly, it passed but on a lazy Sunday like today, the flurries were living in a snow globe. There are some charms to living in wintry New England after all.