In her Loving Family, Loving Language blog, Rachel writes about the cold and how "in Minnesota, life doesn't stop because it's cold." Rachel's blog
I spent six years in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Iowa and though it's a pleasant 31.5 degrees in Northern Virginia this morning (there were snow flurries too), Rachel's post made me remember my first winter in Milwaukee.
I was a rookie staffer for the Associated Press and I'd just bought an old VW Beetle from Lizzie, my friend Roger's wife. (I'd known Roger in high school, but how we both wound up in Milwaukee's a story for another post.) After one lesson from Roger on how to work the clutch, I taught myself the rest on the way home.
Good thing I got it down before the first snowfall.
I grew up in Jamaica and in Washington, D.C., so I'd never seen as much snow as I did in Milwaukee. It snowed and it snowed and it snowed, and then it snowed some more. In the morning, you could see a small dark blue square--part of the roof of the Beetle. The rest was completely covered. All the same, when I finally dug it out, I found a ticket from Milwaukee's finest.
Over the course of that winter, I learned why people in Milwaukee have so much fun in summertime--they have to; they have so much stored up from winter. And I learned you can get used to almost anything. The morning the temperature finally rose above freezing--it had been 10 or 12 degrees for several weeks--I went outside in shirtsleeves because it felt so warm.
A few years later, living in Iowa City, I was prepared. But I do remember one day when the windchill factor made the temperature seem like -30 degrees.
My boss, a guy named named Pat Lackey (not the sportswriter) was on the telephone when I finally made it into the Office of University relations. We were the only two people in the office. It felt like somebody had forgotten to turn on the heat.
"How cold was it?" he was saying to someone on the telephone. "I'll tell you how cold it was. When I got to the office at 9 a.m., it was so cold I had to jump start my electric typewriter."