Besides its all in what you are used to. I remember once I was driving across North Dakota with my fiancee and her family and we stopped for gas outside Bismark. It was a sunny day, bright and fresh after a snowstorm had blown through filling the countryside with drifts of frozen water. My leather jacket clung to me like a sheet of frozen cardboard, my woollen hat sat on my head allowing shafts of piercing cold to drill through the holes in the weave and drive into my skull like ice picks. I tottered out of the Toyota van (a four wheel drive contraption that could plough through any amount of foul weather) and offered to fill up the gas tank. My fellow North Dakotans were standing around in minus 20 degree weather (-29 C) in t-shirts as though it was summer. I could barely operate the fuel pump and my breath felt like razor blades slicing my chest from the inside.Thursday evening I didn't bother to ride the Triumph to work. Rain had fallen while I was sleeping and even though the skies were filled with thick billowy gray clouds their celestial insulation did not help to raise the temperature. I took Cheyenne for a walk on Big Pine and after about 55 minutes the skies opened and rain started spattering through the pine trees. We aimed for the car and started walking fast.I don't usually mind the rain but rain and frigid cold is over the top. It sucks. It's unnatural. It makes me ask myself why I am not living in Charlotte Amalie or Frederiksted, or someplace close by, in the true Caribbean, the true tropics, America's true Paradise Islands- the US Virgins. Probably I'm not a USVI resident because I like road trips, I like a lower crime rate and I enjoy the weather in the Keys 49 weeks out of the year. Well, at least probably 45 weeks. More than 40 weeks out of the year for sure. Especially if you don't count unbearably hot weeks in August and September. It's not clear in this next photograph but my Labrador was looking at me in adoration yesterday morning and her tail was wagging nineteen to the dozen. Her thirty minutes at the pool had made her a happy girl.From Richard Machida's Blog in Fairbanks Alaska (opinions expressed are certainly not those of an institution as august as the University of Alaska and anybody who suggests otherwise is an idiot) I read about the trials and tribulations, minimal really, of refurbishing an elderly BMW motorcycle. I have a vague unformed hankering for an R100RS the first factory faired sport touring motorcycle ever built and I find his blog encouraging. http://blog.machida.us/ However there was a throw away line at the end that gave me palpitations. It seems it's a good time to strip the bike because:
My wife is one of those, raised in Northern California who has never appreciated the cold. She was armed for bear when I crossed her path at the gas station at the end of our street. I was coming home from the pool, she was on her way to work, to teach the little dears wrapped in wool with Ugg boots on her feet.Her language was not at all ladylike as she pumped regular gas at $3.11/gallon into her car. Her Sebring has heated seats and this time of year they are on all the time. If temperatures drop below 80 degrees (27 C) and she wants the roof down, on comes the heated seat. That's her tolerance level for cold. She has announced at last that the heat is coming on at the homestead, and we are among the lucky ones who actually have central heat through reverse cycle a/c at our house. Lots of people don't.
I remember last year we arrived in Asheville, North Carolina about this time of year to visit her sister's family in the mountains. It was cold, and they always tell us, "It's not normally this cold in Asheville." Or "It hardly ever snows here." And every time we show up the weather turns to shit. Just as it did last year, because when we showed up it was twelve degrees (-11 C) and we were seriously frozen. We staggered into the house where the family was gathered to greet us and instantly they treated us like mental deficients. Of course it's cold, where's your cold weather clothing? Of course we had on every stitch of cold weather clothing we had and when they understood our plight out came the puffy jackets and wool accessories and the sympathy. That's right, we don't actually possess cold weather clothing around here. Last winter people were getting cold and lamenting they had no socks, never mind parkas, in Key West.
There is a saying which I have heard attributed to Norwegians which goes something like this: "There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing." And there is a great deal of truth in that. However in the Keys one doesn't plan one's life around periods of exceptional cold. If last winter's long freeze is emulated this winter we may have to reconsider as climate change or whatever alters our patterns of local weather. Tourists come to the Keys to lounge by the pool, to throw of their clothes and their cares in varying degrees. They don't come to huddle and to try to ignore roiling gray clouds and piercing cold wind. The Keys are sold on the (false) premise that these islands are tropical and that they are a Caribbean Paradise. Much of the time they live up to billing but for a few weeks in the year they don't. And it sucks all round. Partly perhaps because when the weather doesn't suck around here it is absolutely perfect, summer or winter. But when it does suck I shall make a point of whining about it. If you choose to live where there are seasons and there is snow and you do it by choice my hat's off to you. When the weather, the great attribute of my home town, lets me down, I might as well be shovelling snow or wearing electric motorcycle gear. And that's not something I'd do by choice. Not without a lot of whining.