Cold Weather Blows

Weather is a frequent topic nowadays. Actually, since we moved to the Midwest three and a half years ago, it has been the foremost topic of conversation. There’s just so much to talk about.

A passing motorist helps push a car out of a snow drift, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009, in Des Moines, Iowa. More than a foot of snow was expected in parts of Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa, where the National Weather Service warned of "extremely dangerous blizzard conditions" and near whiteout driving conditions. Wind gusts of up to 50 mph could build snow drifts between 8 and 15 feet tall. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

I have never lived in a place where weather dictated your life. Coming from San Diego and San Francisco and being used to a constant temperate climate that never kept me indoors for more than a day at a time, moving to a place where the summers are so hot it feels like a sauna during the day and the bugs eat you alive at dusk and where the winters are so cold it’s actually hazardous for your health to be outside was and continues to be a challenge.

I spent the month of December in a town outside Sacramento. When I came back to Iowa, there was about two feet of snow on the ground and the temperatures hovered around zero (without the windchill). It was a shock, to say the least. But the one question that continued to circle in my mind was: How can people still live here?

I’ve discussed in this blog before how some people I know love winter. They love the cold and could not imagine  living in a place that didn’t have a winter.  It is really, really cold here.

Now, if we were a species that hibernates it would be a different matter. I am all for hibernating. In fact, the first year we lived here I practically did—only left the house a few times in three months. Unfortunately, people have to work to earn money to pay their heating bills. This includes me.

Monday through Friday I trudge through the snow, three miles uphill, to work. I brave the ice, the sleet and the sub-zero temperatures. But I, in no way, enjoy it.

People tell me: “Oh, you should take up cross-country skiing,” thinking that would be a good activity to get me out of the house and out of the winter doldrums. My response is always: “But it’s too cold to be outside!”

And then they say: “Oh, you’ll get warm skiing.”

I say: “Yeah right, after my face succumbs to frostbite.”

Mostly, I’m in agreement that the hearty Norwegians and other northern Europeans who settled here are genetically coded to weather this weather. My Mediterranean blood thinks it’s a bunch of hogwash.

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