A Mid-Week Mild-Up

January 22, 2009 at 8:23 pm (Uncategorized)

The Eskimos have a thousand words to describe snow.  Seattle-ites know what rain with periodic showers actually means.  Here in Minnesota, they have something referred to as a “Mild-up”.
A mild-up is a period of time where the temperature increases and the skies are clear and sunny.  When the temperature increases from 1 degree to several days of 24 degrees, it’s still well below freezing so to call it a warm-up would be laughable.  But it is, relatively speaking, milder than the week before, hence the term. 
Mild-ups are something that are relayed by the weathermen with the same sense of excitement Seattle weathermen report a sunny day in January – a bit of awe and a whole lot of eager anticipation, as if they are personally responsible for delivering this welcome gift.  Also, there is usually something called a “January Thaw” in Minnesota, where the temperatures will climb all the way to 36 degrees for a couple of days, and combined with the bright winter sun, snow does indeed melt.  Today is one of those days, but I think to be a true thaw, it must consist of several days in a row.  It is possible that we won’t experience a thaw this January.  Many Minnesotans look forward to a mid-winter thaw; it helps them get through the rest of the season.  I assume this is similar to the February week in Seattle where the rain stops, the winds pick up, and the area dries out.  I suppose it’s mother nature’s way of ensuring you don’t succumb to that building mental breakdown.
Weather is indeed something that you get used to – in Seattle you become accustomed to months of rain.  You buy the proper clothing, resign yourself to flat hair, and deal with the standing water, gloomy skies, and pervasive dampness.  Here, I can honestly say that in a very short period of time I have become accustomed to the cold.  To be sure, it is physically much, much colder than Seattle.  But the temperature in Seattle is not quite cold enough to actively discourage outdoor activity.  And since there really is no good way to protect yourself from all the wet and damp, the chill is hard to shake and even though you can get outdoors, you’re likely miserable most of the time. 
My experience in Minnesota has been different.  When it’s very cold – single digits and below – you just stay indoors.  It’s that simple; you run errands out of necessity but otherwise, you cuddle up with loved ones and the dogs, make fattening crock-pot dinners, and entertain yourself.  But once it’s in the teens, especially when it’s sunny and bright (more than 50% of the time), you can run errands and get outside without having to duck your head and cover the back of your neck to protect your skin from raindrops.  Sure, you don’t want to spend tons of time outdoors, but it’s doable.  Very doable.  And, with all the dry cold, if you do bundle up in snowsuits or Carhartts, non-exposed skin is very toasty.  It’s a cold that you can actually layer up and protect against, and you can warm up from.
That’s an important part – being able to warm up from the cold.  I remember in Enumclaw that if I got cold and chilled during morning chores, sometimes you just couldn’t warm up all day long.  Even in the coldest weather I have ever experienced last week, I was able to quickly warm up from the walk from the parking lot to the building.  I even warmed up faster and more completely after that disastrous riding experiment than I expected to.
This winter has been described as exceptional cold and harsh – which hasn’t bothered me.  I’d rather experience the worst mother nature can throw my way right up front, and know with certainty that I can survive and even thrive.  I like the snow and the sun – I’ve found a place to eat my lunch in the sun.  It’s the first time I’ve experienced mid-day, mid-winter sun in 15 years.  It’s a real treat. 
All that being said – who wants to come visit?  J


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