Because spring may almost possibly maybe sort of be upon us here in the Northeast (daylight savings time kicks in this weekend), I submit to you this post on lessons learned from moving to a cold(er) climate.
As he gets older, my father seems to be obsessed with watching The Weather Channel. He or my Mom will call, email and Skype me anxiously wanting to know if we ducked the latest tornado, hailstorm, thunder etc being hyped on cable TV. I appreciate their concern but usually I am blissfully ignorant of whatever weather pattern has been reported …
But at the risk of acting like a retiree, I have found myself thinking about and writing about the weather A LOT this winter. I am starting to understand why older folks move to places like Florida, Arizona, Costa Rica.
I spent my formative years in the mid-Atlantic region of the eastern United States. Since college, I’ve lived in Florida, California and Arizona. No coincidence that these are all warm places. A few years ago, work brought me back to the east coast, to the D.C. metro area.
I swear – and I keep telling my poor husband this – that when I lived in this region before, it wasn’t this cold. I don’t remember suffering through lows in the teens and this much ice and wind and hail and snow. I swear winter here has either gotten worse, or my blood really has thinned, as they say when you live in a warm climate for too long. Or, my memory is really that selective.
But by way of statistics, consider this. The average snowfall in the DC area is about 7 inches per year. Hardly anything. During the winter of 2009-2010, we got 70 INCHES. Quite a big difference. Will be interesting to see the final tally for this winter.
Anyway, there have been a lot of things I’ve had to learn and relearn about living in a colder climate. For those of you who live in the Arctic Circle (aka Michigan, Illinois, etc) these will be obvious but believe me, this wisdom has been painfully earned on my part.
Lessons for cold weather survival
Don’t leave your gym bag sitting in the car all day while you’re at work. Because then when you grab your gear to hit the gym after work, you’ll get a nice shock when you realize how COLD your clothes are when you go to put them on. Nothing quite like the shock of a cold sports bra.
Electronics (like portable GPS devices) also don’t seem to like being left out in the cold. Recently the Tom Tom got all confused and tried to take me to Hermosa Beach, or maybe it was just wishful thinking on both our parts.
Gloves do make a difference – who knew?
Clean the snow off your car sooner rather than later. If you decide to wait until later that day or the next day to clear your car off, you will often find that what started out as nice fluffy snow has turned into a giant block of impenetrable ice.
Give yourself enough time to clean off your car, I always underestimate how long it will take.
Don’t forget to clear the rear window and the rear-view mirrors.
Don’t be tempted to buy the inexpensive gas station ice scraper/brush, there is a reason why it’s $2.79 and that reason is that it is a cheap piece of crap that will break the first time you use it. Go to a nice Sears auto/tire center, they have a lovely selection of good snow removal accoutrements.
You must clean the roof of your car off too. Don’t be that a-hole on the roads with big chunks of snow and ice flying off your car and hitting the cars behind you. A broom comes in handy for this.
Don’t drive around with an empty tank. If roads are blocked you may not be able to get to a gas station. In the event of a power outage, which happens a lot around here because the snow and ice take power lines down, the gas pumps won’t work.
Don’t let your fridge and pantry stay empty for too long. Last winter, we were snowbound for a week. Even if you can get to the grocery store, everyone else in your county will have panicked and cleared the shelves of all the good stuff, like beer and whipped cream.
While you’re at the store, stock up on salt for the sidewalks and stairs. That always goes fast.
Make sure your laptop and phone are charged, in case of the aforementioned power outage, or if you get stuck in your car.
Know where the flashlights are, and batteries.
It’s always worth it to pay someone to clear your driveway if you don’t have a snowblower/plow. As much as I like being self sufficient and the workout that snow removal provides, the more snow is on the ground, the longer and longer my driveway seems to get.
My dad used to put a couple of 40 pound bags of dog food in the trunk of his car when road conditions were icy, something about traction. I can barely fit a 4 pound bag of anything in my trunk, so I take my chances with that.
During winter, it’s best not to dive onto the bed without first checking to make sure there isn’t a cat snoogled somewhere within the folds of the down comforter. Kitty’s had some close calls.
That’s the extent of my wisdom to date.
Feel free to mock my thin blood and contribute your own best practices and wisdom. And with this, may I not jinx spring from actually springing, and soon.
PS - in DC the other night I spied two cherry trees that looked to be sprouting little buds!! you don't know how exciting this is.
Peak cherry blossom season is forecast to begin on March 29 - stay tuned. (this is a big deal in the DC area, the cherry blooms bring in beau coup tourism dollars and it's just really, really pretty. there are people whose job it is to monitor the trees and predict when they will be in full bloom. Not sure if it's a full-time job, but sorta interesting nonetheless. )