Not wanting to sound typically British or anything but what about this weather we’ve been having? Practically anywhere on either side of the Pond has had weird weather recently. However, I never really appreciated the temperate climes of England until I left. Growing up on the north east coastline could be pretty nippy when you had to wait too long for a bus, but there’s nothing quite like “lake effect winds and snow” racing over Lake Michigan down from Canada to give you a true sense of “cold”..
On Thursday we got up to an actual temp of 3 degrees Fahrenheit, with a wind chill taking it down to -20. That’s -16 Celsius feeling more like -28 because of the wind. When you get outside, the hair (and whatever else) inside your nostrils freezes. It really is the strangest sensation. Your eyes water because of the cold, and then the tears freeze halfway down your face. I remember years ago when the actual temp was below zero but the wind chill was- 40 (which, if you’ll remember is the same in both Fahrenheit and Celsius). My brother in England said “Toni, that can’t be right. That’s a walk- in freezer”. Yes, it is. That’s why the TV weather people tell you not to go out unless it’s absolutely necessary, and explain the initial signs of frostbite.
Fashion goes out the window in this kind of weather. Not only do regular (women’s) boots not keep your feet warm, they get ruined by the salt that’s poured on the roads every night and the nice leather soles usually turn into suicide weapons on the ice. Hats are a must, and I have yet to find a really flattering hat that also keeps your head warm. Don’t even talk to me about hat hair, which is permanent in this season. We usually also wear scarves that can be wrapped across the face, ski masks or gaiters that do the same. Trendy jackets and coats are traded in for ankle length parkas; if you don’t have one of those, layering lighter jackets also works. In either case you are rendered incapable of putting your arms down by your sides and if you fall over, you cannot get up unassisted.
Dressing children for school is a race against time, especially if you have more than about two. By the time you’ve got the last one suited up, the first has either fainted from the heat or needs to go pee. I would suggest standing them all outside once they have the ski gear on but I think that’s classed as physical abuse below a certain temperature. Oh yes, and they rarely get to play outside once the weather gets below freezing, so they come home bouncing off the walls.
How you doin’?
Very often, when I meet people for the first time and they realize I’m not from around here, they ask, “Don’t you just hate the weather?” Then I tell them about weather where I come from, and they gain a new appreciation for the mild, temperate (albeit, wet) climate we enjoy here.
I read Toni’s piece with a pang of nostalgia and a good deal of glee that I don’t have to put up with that any more. In Chicago, of course, the wind is the killer, but in my location, just south of the Adirondack Mountains, the real temperature got down to -22. Fahrenheit. (That’s -30 C.) At that temperature, there is no wind. There is also no bird song, or rustling of chipmunks in the wood. When the world is that cold, it is as silent as a deep sleep. The only sound is the soft crunch of snow underfoot, and your own whimpering as the snot freezes in your nose and your eyeballs glaze over with ice.
But it has its own beauty, a stark, still, silent beauty that I have to admit, I do miss.
I do not, however, miss digging my car out from under three feet of snow and driving to work. None of this two-centimetres-and-we-get-the-day-off crap. I also don’t miss shovelling my roof. Yes, you heard that right, “Shovelling. My. ROOF!
And that’s just winter.
Try 104 degrees in the shade (40 C) with high humidity. In temps like that the blacktop steams and sticks to your sneakers as you amble very slowly across it. (Cold brings movement to a standstill; heat only slows it down.)
No, the British climate may throw some chilly mornings, wet afternoons, foggy evenings and blustery nights at me, but it can never hope to touch the extremes I grew up with. In the weather department, moving to England was definitely a trade up.
MHMail55-MT AT Yahoo.com
or just pop it into the comment box.