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Sunday, January 19, 2014

The True Hardy-Lifers

[first published in 1999, and sounding awfully familiar]
     Once again Mike’s Prediction has held true. Some folks may have their doubts, but it’s been our experience that you can set your calendar by Mike’s Prediction.
     You see, according to my husband, we have only two weeks of below-zero weather in Southeast Wisconsin. Around these parts, that weather rolled in around January 2 and out around the 16th. So the nay-sayers must admit that for this year at least, Mike had a pretty accurate prediction.
     Living in below-zero weather is something we Wisconsinites tolerate but never quite get used to. We need to know there’s an end in sight.
     But I’ve lived other places – Norfolk, Virginia, and Rome, Italy – where people would laugh if they heard that you could tolerate even two days of below-zero weather, much less two weeks.
     I saw snow in both places, and some bone-chilling damp weather, although never the teeth-freezing bitterness we know in Wisconsin. And when snow comes to places like Virginia and Italy, we Wisconsinites have to laugh.
     There they are, those Italian or Virginian hardy-lifers, out in their apr├Ęs-ski boots and garden hoes, trying to clear their walks. There are no snow plows, so a three-inch snowfall can mean school is closed for days. It’s best to stay off the roads, because what warm-weather motorists don’t know is that you must learn to drive all over again each winter! They drive way too fast and way too close. They build snowmen immediately because they’re so excited about the snowfall. Here in Wisconsin, if our family hasn’t built a snowman by February, we figure we’ll still get a chance in March.
     It must be true what they say about warm weather thinning the blood, because after we had lived in Virginia for a year, our friend Mark Metscher came to visit. It was Thanksgiving, and we were freezing and wearing winter jackets. Mark couldn’t believe we were cold. He walked around outside in shirtsleeves, exclaiming, “Sheesh, it’s fifty degrees!”
     There’s something special about really, really cold weather. It’s so dangerous that it’s exciting. I realize again what a thin thread we hang from. If I were a survivalist, I don’t think I’d live in Wisconsin.
     Come summer, it’s all a memory. Then it’s time for Mike’s Prediction about above-ninety-degree weather. You guessed it: two weeks.
“Bloom where you’re planted” is a hard directive during the winter when you’re planted in Wisconsin.
[This selection will be included in Desssert First, my new book to be released soon.]

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