Saturday, January 04, 2014

Cold Weather

As most people know, there is cold snap in the Midwestern and Eastern states at the moment.

I find the local reaction to the cold weather somewhat odd. I swear to heaven I used to go to school via public transit when the air temperature was 20 below. (This was before windchill.) Due to dress codes, I wore a skirt and nylons or maybe tights, and I can remember shivering on street corners wearing Capizio flats. I should have been dressed more warmly. But if you dress warmly and pay attention to the weather and public service announcements, cold weather should not be a cause for panic. Yes, Governor Dayton is right to close the public schools. Yes, you should have emergency supplies in your car. But this kind of cold used to be typical of Minnesota this time of year, and the state survived.

If it's cold enough so exposed skin gets frostbitten in minutes, then cover your skin. This is why the goddess made balaclavas. Scarves also work, and those neat hoods on winter jackets that tighten, so only your eyes are unprotected. I wear glasses, so even the eyes are protected, though after the glasses fog over I can't see much. Also, don't try to lick a metal railing.

A facebook friend who grew up in western Minnesota reminds me that winter is a lot more severe in rural areas, especially in the western part of the state, where the winds come off the Great Plains and pile up drifts. But people who live there learn to cope.

I used to work with a guy from Pipestone, which is right at the South Dakota border. He told a story about his previous job. Some of the staff had a meeting in western Minnesota, and there was winter storm coming in. Jim said, "We don't want to drive west with a storm coming." They said, "Ha! Ha! We are Minnesotans. We don't fear winter." So they all climbed in a car and drove west into the storm. After a while, they turned around and drove back to safety.

I am always impressed, when we go west, by the gates on the freeway entrance ramps, that close in bad weather to keep the idiots off.


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