Malcomb: Evolving perspectives on winter
I don't know if anyone noticed, but it's been a little cold this week here along the North Shore.
It's the kind of cold where your face almost immediately goes numb and even your chest is cold because, you know, you're breathing air that is 15 degrees below zero.
But, I don't need to tell you this. If you're reading this, you most likely live in northern Minnesota. That, friends, is what we call down South "preaching to the choir."
The thing is, after growing up in North Carolina and spending another 17 years in the D.C. area, explaining what the kind of cold we've experienced the past few days is like to my friends and family back home isn't easy.
Usually, I'll get a text from a friend asking how cold it is and I'll send a screenshot of whatever weather app I'm using at the time. Or I'll relate a story that illustrates just how cold it is.
Like this morning, I was getting gas. I took off my glove to get out my credit card and grabbed the pump handle without putting the glove back on. That rookie mistake took a tiny bit of skin off my index finger.
I was talking to Mom on the phone last night and the first thing she said to me was: "How cold is it up there?"
"Mama, it's cold out there," I said.
She said she showed my nephew the temperature yesterday when she picked him up from school and he was flabbergasted.
"It's colder in Duluth than Antarctica," he said.
I don't know about that, little buddy, but maybe. It is summer in Antarctica.
The question I get most from folks back home is "What do you do when it's that cold?"
Well, when it's cold like it was on Monday, Jan. 28 — say, around 5 degrees — I'll bundle up in snowpants or Carhartts and take the Gonz — my faithful dog — out for a hike. There aren't too many people up on Hawks Ridge or down in Lester Park early in the morning, so I can let him off the leash and just chase him around for an hour or so.
We'll have ice in our beards and the Gonz is covered in snow and ice, but he's happy as a clam. On Tuesday, Jan. 28, however, we let him outside and he lasted 35 seconds. My wife timed it.
We have plenty of stuff to deal with the cold in Minnesota, like Carhartt overalls, big, heavy boots and easily layered clothes that still keep you warm. It's not even uncomfortable most of the time. When the Gonz and I were out on Monday, I think I had six different layers on.
"You're crazy," they'll say. "I just couldn't do it."
What's really funny is my change in perspective. I was home over Thanksgiving and I was able to go catch the Clemson game that weekend. It was, at worst, 45 degrees. Everybody had on their big puffy coats, winter hats and gloves.
Me, on the other hand, I had on a pullover and a long-sleeved T-shirt. I was hot, so I took off the pullover. They looked at me like I had lost my mind.
"Folks, it ain't even cold," I said.
Still, this week, it's crazy cold and, honestly, my recommendation for anyone looking for something to do is pick up a book and find a cozy spot next to a fireplace.
Learning how to survive and thrive in the cold has been one of my favorite things about living in Minnesota. It's a challenge and honestly, the Gonz and I have loved almost every minute of it.
There's only one thing I don't get about Minnesota in the winter: hockey. Why would I ever want to go inside to be cold?
That, friends, is what we call "hustling backward."