Friday, December 23, 2011

Wisconsin 101: Winter wardrobe

According to my mom's info on this photo, this is my grandfather hauling ice. I cannot believe I share genes with that man. Something happened in those two generations.

When I was out "running" (as I like to call it, although a casual observer might call it "shuffling along like a little old lady who forgot her walker at home but is still determined to get some fresh air," no disrespect to little old ladies intended - I am in awe of the older people I see at my gym who walk around the track with canes and walkers and casts. They make me feel pathetic and whiny for skipping out of body pump before we do shoulders. I hate shoulders, but if that old lady can walk a mile with a cane, I guess I can spend four minutes lifting weights that are only a pound heavier than a full milk jug.)

Where was I?

Oh right. I was out running and saw a couple of kids walking home from school in shorts.

This is December. In Wisconsin.

Granted, there is no snow on the ground (if this be global warming that I have not had to shovel yet this year, then bring it), but it was only 22 degrees with the wind chill. I was wearing long tights, two long-sleeved t-shirts, a fleece, and a down vest. And my new fluffy mittens that I got at Kohls for only $4 after the $10 gift card they sent me. I hit the store the day the fluffy mittens were on half price sale. I might not have paid $28 for mittens - although the longer I spend in Wisconsin, the less I value my money and the more I value my warmth - but I was very willing to spend $4 on them. I don't know if I have ever paid full price at Kohls. But what can they expect? They're the ones who send me that $10 cards all the time.

I will never be as tough as these kids. I wanted to yell at them to put on more clothes, but they were walking, not lying huddled on the sidewalk, waiting for death to take them in her warm embrace.

Here is what I have learned about winter after moving here in 2008:

There is no such thing as "a" winter coat.

I had a coat and a pair of shoes when I was a kid. Maybe a pair or two of shoes - school shoes, play shoes, and church shoes.

But only one coat.

Before I moved here, I had a winter coat. That's all I needed in Memphis. One coat. One coat to rule them all.

Then I arrived. And discovered that a Memphis winter coat is not adequate for a Wisconsin winter.

Which is why I have a down vest, a long nice wool coat, a short nice wool coat, two spring coats, two jeans jackets, one plain, one striped, a windbreaker, a raincoat, and a big red puffy down coat that I bought for ten dollars at the First Presbyterian thrift shop in Cedar Rapids 13 years ago, even though I had no need of a down coat but it was such a good deal that I couldn't pass it up.

The down coat is the one I wear most often, as it is the warmest, and it is the perfect coat to use when I am selecting from the suite of snow removal equipment, because just as one does not have "a" winter coat in Wisconsin, one also does not have "a" shovel.

I am very ready to move back south.


Gaylin said...

You make me so glad I live in Vancouver. It is 45 here today. I keep saying I need to buy a warmer winter jacket but just add another layer when needed and ignore the cold by walking faster!

Class factotum said...

Gaylin, I am envious.