Gretchen L. Kelly, Author

The Coldest Weather EVER 2014 (Or Why You Should Feel Sorry For Us Southerners)

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“The sun’s getting cold, it’s snowin’, looks like early winter for us…”

-Gwen Stefani, Early Winter

I know, you’re sick of hearing about the “Arctic Blast” that has affected almost every part of the country this week.  But what I think everyone who doesn’t live in the South needs to know is,  it’s way worse for us.  Today is beautiful.  Carolina blue skies… sunny.  But it’s really cold.  Like 8 degrees cold.  Yeah.  Feelin’ pretty sorry for us aren’t you?

I walked outside to take this picture.  In the cold.
I walked outside to take this picture. In the cold.

But here’s the thing.  We live in the South.  We don’t like cold.  We like it just cold enough to put on a cute cozy sweater and some fashionable boots and sit around a fire pit making s’mores.  About 50 degrees would be perfect for such a scenario.  Anything colder than that just isn’t acceptable.

Most of the people in my part of the South are actually transplants from up north.  My husband left upstate New York for college.  His college requirements?  Some place with palm trees.  (He ended up at U.G.A., close enough).  Some of the transplants left for the lower taxes, the job opportunities…  but really, most of them left the frigid dreary north for the beautiful southern weather.  Today, they are feeling like they’ve been duped.

I know there’s a lot of people laughing at us Southerners right now.  They think we’re wimpy, we don’t have the grit and fortitude of our heartier neighbors north of the Mason Dixon line…   but our panic and confusion during a cold snap has nothing to do with toughness.  It has more to do with expectations.  When you live in the South, you don’t have cold-weather gear.  My son has worn shorts and a hoodie to school every day this year.  I don’t think I could find a matching pair of gloves if I tried.  We don’t own scarves unless they are meant to accessorize an outfit.  Snow boots?  Ha!  First, they aren’t cheap.  Second, they aren’t easy to find down here.  Third, why would I spend money on something my kids may wear once every other year?

We’ve had a few snow days over the last few years.  Usually a snow day means my neighbors and I calling each other to see what gear we have left over from previous years.  We all trade and piece together boots or snow pants that our kids have outgrown.  Usually this means that one of my kids has real boots and the others make do with plastic bags tied around their tennis shoes.  Then, my husband tries to make a make-shift sled.  This never works and my kids just end up sharing sleds with all the neighbor kids.  Two Christmases ago I finally purchased two “snow discs” for my kids to use for sledding.  They have not been used yet.  If I went out and bought boots for all three kids, you can pretty much guarantee that it won’t snow until all of my kids have outgrown them….

Some of the schools in our area were on a two hour delay today.  Not a drop of moisture in the air.  The reason for the delay?  Because it’s too freakin’ cold!  A lot of the kids waiting at the bus stop at 6:45 am don’t own real winter jackets.  No one in my family has anything with the words “North” or “Face” on it.  The jackets we do have probably don’t even classify as coats.  They are meant for chilly weather, not ridiculously cold weather.  We live in a part of the country where we make day trips to the mountains to go snow tubing so our kids can experience the snow.  We occasionally get a big ice storm or a decent snow storm.  But then we will have a few years of mild winter weather.  It’s nice.  We like it that way.

So we may not have a foot of snow or power outages like our northern friends (seriously, I hope everyone is staying safe and warm), but we are freezing down here.  We are piling on layers of light weight sweaters and dashing from our cars in to the store to buy more bourbon -I mean hot chocolate- to keep us warm.  We will get through it.  We will complain and whine but we will survive.  The good news is that this Saturday it’s supposed to be a comfortable and much more reasonable 57 degrees.  We can go back to our normal way of life.   So, make fun of us now.  Laugh at our thin blood and frozen un-protected hands.  But in a few days, we’ll be back to riding our bikes, playing outside, enjoying this beautiful southern winter.  In a few days we’ll think about the cold weather we just endured and consider investing in real coats.   In a few days we’ll look back on the few days of cold weather and laugh at ourselves.

Bet a southerner made this meme….
Bet a southerner made this meme….

8 Responses

  1. You know what? I hear you. I get it. Though I live in Oregon and grew up in CT, and LOVE winter, I get it. I adore central oregon winters….I actually live in the mountains and I love our winters because I am in the desert and we have a dry cold that isn’t so biting. However, it rarely gets below 20 degrees and I like it…..a few weeks ago though, we had the COLDEST winter storm I’ve ever experienced. It was well below zero degrees for awhile there and at one point it was -20. I don’t own a car and had to WALK OUTSIDE in it. It was painful. One day on the way to work, I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me and finally, in order to keep my legs moving, I had to let out a blood curdling scream. Though, I’m naturally soft spoken, so maybe it wasn’t that loud.

    Since then, everyday has been unseasonably warm though (like 50 degrees), that I saw a bumble bee the other day, which worries me. Climate change scares me… I just wish we could all experience our normal, regional climate patterns. So, why don’t you send some of your winter up to us and I’ll send you your winter back…

    Stay warm and cozy,

    1. Wow, I am impressed. I don’t think I would have made it to work that day… I used to go to school in the mountains and it would get pretty frigid there, I remember the wind actually knocking me down when walking to class one day. I loved living in the mountains but I don’t miss the cold weather! Climate change scares me as well. Just a month ago it was 80 degrees here. That’s just not right. It was hard to really enjoy it because it was kind of creepy to have 80 degrees in December!

      1. Yeah, I get it. That’s how I feel about this 50 degree weather…

        I hope that story about you walking to school and getting knocked down by the wind is a story that you tell your kis which begins, “When I was your age…” 🙂

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