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Whither Weather

With a few weeks left until Christmas, many are probably looking forward to the vaunted winter wonderland of white. After all:

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful. And since we have no place to go, Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Midwesterners likely listened to these verses with wry amusement as they suffered through 17 inches of snow and watched with everyone else as video of the Minneapolis Metrodome snow-laden roof collapsing made the rounds. For expats who relocated from warmer climes, snow and its associated cold weather can be quite an adjustment. Winter, more so than any other season, is specialized with clothing, equipment and attitude.

A winter wardrobe is more than the items — hats, scarves, gloves, boots, long underwear — it’s the quality and composition. A hot weather T-shirt is a fairly basic cotton or polyester blend. A winter coat or sweater may be wool, cashmere, suede, leather, goose down, hooded, furred. Acrylic blends is easier to keep clean but pill and can “static” in dry heated environments. Wools are warmer but can smell like wet dog when wet — as in after a blizzard. And of course this type of wardrobe is a lot pricier than a T-shirt and takes up more space and becomes a storage problem for those in small city apartments.

For those who have to, driving in snow means snow tires, salt, ice scrapers, shovels and fingers crossed that black ice, whiteouts or the emergency kit isn’t part of the itinerary.

Weather tolerance can be developed and learned and for those making the move to warm to cold, the learning process can be frightful for the unprepared. Ironically, the reverse can be true too, those who moved from cold to warm and then moved back can find that they have lost their cold tolerance. While a major area of food crop research, cold tolerance for humans is more attitude and preparation. For the fire is so delightful … especially with roasted chestnuts.

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