Column: Making peace with the winter cold

• Originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on Dec. 7, 2010

I thought I was prepared for the cold this year.

I really did.

“It’s just three months or so.” “It would be a shame to own a nice coat and never get the chance to wear it.” “Maybe it won’t be so bad this year.”

All my rationalizations, justifications and wintry pipe dreams melted into nothingness with the first truly cold day of December.

I stepped outside, felt the tip of my nose take a dive toward numbness and calculated whether it would be possible to do my best bear impression and hibernate through winter while still keeping my job. (No, I quickly surmised. Bears, unlike editors, have the natural advantage of not working for newspapers.)

After seven years of living in northern Illinois, I’ve accepted the fact I’m never going to get used to living with the bitter cold here, a mere six hours north of my hometown of Evansville, Ind. (To be fair, I also complained about the winters there, even though it’s about 10 degrees warmer during the winter on average.)

So, since winter and I are predisposed to not get along, it’s time I made the best of this relationship rather than pretending winter doesn’t exist and hoping it goes away.

As such:

• I will no longer pretend it isn’t cold and venture out without gloves, a scarf and a hat. It hasn’t worked for seven years and it won’t start working this winter. It’s scientifically proven that pretending it’s warmer than it is does not actually make it warmer. Not only does going outside ill-prepared for winter make you colder, it makes you look stupid for not realizing that covering various body parts helps keep them warm.

• I will no longer leave my home as if it were summer thinking I can just jump in my vehicle and go. I will factor in the time needed to scrape the snow and ice off my car. Furthermore, I will buy a decent scraper and replace the free one I got a few years ago that barely works. Free does not necessarily mean better, even in winter.

• I will no longer go to sleep with just a T-shirt and pajama bottoms and then complain in the morning that I was cold and accuse my wife of hogging the blankets. Socks were invented for a reason, as were sweatshirts.

• I will stop ordering frozen coffee drinks until temperatures at least hit the 50s again. There’s simply no logical reason to add a brain freeze to a body freeze. I will, however, continue to eat ice cream. Man can be only so logical.

But it’s not all “things I won’t do.” There also are a few things I will do this year.

• I will build a snowman. It will be an awesome snowman, and I will name him Mr. Winter. I then will wait and watch as he slowly melts away. Or gets kicked in by a punk teenager. Either way works for me.

• I will go on a skiing or snowboarding trip this winter. It’s been far too long since I last hit the slopes. And by hit the slopes, I literally mean hit the slopes. The last time I went snowboarding, I ended up at the hospital with a few stitches in my head. Good times, good times.

• I will have a mug of hot chocolate once a week. As long as it’s going to be cold, I might as well have warm sugar in my body.

• I will take better care of myself. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean I should stop trying to eat well or exercising. There’s a wonderful sport that was created specifically for winter – basketball. (You thought I was going to say hockey, didn’t you? Any sport that requires you to carry two dangerous weapons at all times (a hockey stick and ice skates) is a bit too barbaric for me. I’ll stick with basketball shoes and bare hands, thank you very much).

I’ll never get used to winter. I’ll never truly embrace it. But maybe, just maybe, by following the above declarations, I can make peace with it.

And it certainly could be worse. I could live six hours even further north in Wisconsin. Brrr.

Joe Grace is the editor of the Kane County Chronicle. Write to him at jgrace@kcchronicle.com or call him at 630-845-5368.

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