I ran with a guy in college who, I felt, once made a very simple but profound statement about chilly weather.
This individual was from La Pine, an arctic hamlet outside Bend that brings images of frost-smothered lumberjacks to mind. He basically said the idea that those who come from colder areas should have superpowers in frosty weather is stupid. “Cold is cold,” I believe was his exact concluding phraseology.
He’s right. I’m from Colorado, and I can’t tell you the number of times I’ll be hit with assumptions like that. When it gets frigid out, it’s inevitable that I’ll hear people say things like, “Oh, but you must be used to this” or “This probably is nothing compared to where you’re from.”
Uh, no. Beg to differ on all counts. Temperatures that plunge into the teens or low 20s don’t get me giddy because of the goose down and gortex skin we Coloradans are presumably born with. Cold weather – the real kind, the kind that glazes your bones with silvery frost – is never fun, even if you were raised in an igloo.
But fret not. There is good news in the fight against arctic-feeling weather, and it doesn’t involve gulping down hot drinks or layers, though those are fine supplements to the main plan of attack.
Which is this: compare your situation to a handful of others where it was arguably colder.
Example: I’m reading a book called “In the Heart of the Sea” right now. It’s about a whaling tragedy from the early 1800s where a rogue 85-foot sperm whale plowed into the whaling vessel Essex, forcing the men to abandon ship and try and try and make it to land in a pitiful fleet of tiny makeshift boats. I’m only about one-third in, but the story has already made me thankful for my heated building and vehicle, my coat, hot cocoa and fireplaces. That I’m not stuck at sea in an open face boat while freezing waters and mist rendered me a constant soaking, shivering disaster.
Feel warmer yet? No. OK, how about this?
I’ll stick with the nautical theme. Think about explorer Ernest Shackleton and his Antarctic expedition. Imagine his boat caught in an ice floe, eventually sinking, and having to make camp on the nearby frozen fields while you figured out your next move. No hand warmers or battery powered heaters or $1,000 jackets designed to stop the icy air…cold.
We could even go fictional if you like. Think about that scene in “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” where an inmate of a prison on a frozen asteroid is thrown outside in nothing but skimpy rags, left to freeze to death. Then there’s the ice planet Hoth from the Star Wars universe. Imagine being lost overnight in a blizzard, caught in sub-freezing temperatures and blowing snow while darkness descends.
It suddenly doesn’t seem so bad out, does it? Comparatively, I mean.
I’m practically ready to hit the beach.
So this holiday season, when you feel overwhelmed by the nip in the air, just remember: You may not have cold-shielding superpowers, but at least you’re not that guy.