When I woke up this morning, it was 14 below. That’s 14 degrees below zero. Yes. Farenheit. And if you are reading this any place besides Minnesota, Wisconsin, North or South Dakota or Iowa — that is to say, the Upper Midwest — oh, all right, I’ll add Alaska and I may as well add all of Canada — you’d probably be thinking that people who stay here are daft.
Well, maybe we are.
You would logically think that when it’s that cold, no one goes outside unless they have to. You’d be wrong.
My sister called and reminded me that we were going out for breakfast today. Great, I said, I’ll start dressing now and when you arrive in 45 minutes, maybe I’ll be ready. Of course we assumed that in this kind of cold weather, no one is going to be outside unless they really need to be. But oh, it’s probably not that bad, we decided. There won’t be many people out. Who would go out on a day like this?
Ok, the sun was shining. That should have been our first clue. When the sun shines in Minnesota, people automatically head toward it, drawn hypnotically — like zombies, only better looking. Doesn’t matter what the temperature is. THE SUN IS OUT! Then we need to get out, too!
So my sister, J, stops at my house and I have by now put on the layers: standard underwear, then the black silk long underwear — only the knee-length pants and the camisole, though; the long sleeves and the full-length pants are for 20 below and colder. I’m not kidding! Then on with the corduroy pants — warmer than jeans. Two pairs of socks — a light wool, then the world’s best socks, SmartWool socks. And a regular T-shirt. And a sweater. Then there’s the pashmina that doubles as a muffler, the warm hat (as opposed to the cute beret), the heavy gloves and the Lands End snow shoe-boots with extra insulation added. Finally, the full length down coat (again, Lands End –mine is fuschia!) and I roll out the door with no visible moving joints. A puffy stick person.
As we head to the Highland Grill, our chosen breakfast spot, we discuss the nasty icy roads and the fact that we won’t see pavement for months. We agree to park in the lot by Barnes and Noble, our next destination after food — the parking lot is packed! What the heck is going on? Why are all these people here?
Walking across the street, we encounter a person who could be male, female or alien: completely swathed in hat scarves coat gloves boots — just a little slit between eyebrows and bridge of nose to see out.
The restaurant — also packed, outerwear stuffed in booths and on chairs, so the whole dining room feels upholstered. Gosh, we say to each other, and to Amy, our server, we didn’t think there would be anyone out today! She agrees: Why did all these people decide to come out in the cold?
Yeah, right. What are all those other people doing out today? What are we doing out today?
Simple. It’s in the blood. I believe that. We have some inner need, not only to seek out the sunlight, but to prove to ourselves and others that It’s Not That Bad (one of every Minnesotan’s favorite sayings). By golly, we are going to go outside, for to do so is to shake our fists at the Arctic chill. We are sons and daughters of Odin! We are descendants of Viking explorers! We thrive in adverse conditions! We have Thinsulate!
A little 14 below zero weather, as long as the sun is shining? That’s not gonna stop us. Oh no. Because it will also warm up.
In fact, it might even get up to zero. And that will feel warm.