Wednesday, January 04, 2017

I've discovered in my travels that people from hot countries have no idea what cold weather is like.  Malaysians, for example, think it's the end of the world if the temperature drops below 20 degrees Celsius (or 70 Fahrenheit, as we say in America).  They'll start throwing on huge sweaters, crank up the heating, and just generally act as if they're on the point of freezing to death.

In Australia, I was once part of a conversation with a group of Australians when they started wondering why any company would even manufactures balaclavas (or as we call them in America "ski masks") since their only conceivable purpose is to be used in robberies.

When attempting to describe cold weather to my Cambodian or Vietnamese students, I typically get frustrated and usually resort to saying things like, "You guys have no idea.  No idea.  You just can't imagine it."

I was therefore glad to see this article circulating around Facebook, then, because it does a pretty good job of describing Michigan winters, and I can just share it with my non-American friends instead of trying to describe Michigan winters myself.


Michigan comes in at number 2.  The description of Michigan winters is so good that I'm just going to quote it in full.

Winter in Michigan begins well before Thanksgiving and stretches far past Easter, which makes for four-to-six wearisome months of always-gray, always-cold, always-drizzly, but-rarely-snowy-in-a-good-way misery. Some other states may see colder temps or more snow, but Michigan winters are unrivaled for their utter lack of sunshine. The ceaseless cloud cover begins in October, and envelopes the state in a daily sense of gloom that only worsens when the apathetic sun slouches below the horizon at quarter-to-five.

For the Michigander, this is winter: you leave work at 5 or 6, already in the dead of night, and fight your way down 94 or 96 or 75 or whatever Godforsaken stretch of highway. You can't even tell if it is drizzling rain or snow, because the brown salt sludge that sprays up off the road coats your windshield more completely than anything that falls from the sky. Overnight, the road freezes. In the morning you wake up and it is still dark. You scrape off your car, then get stuck in traffic as the cars ahead of you gawk at the SUV that has slid into the ditch. You actually look forward to a proper snowfall, just to cover the dirt. Even then, you do not go skiing, because there are no hills.

You do not look forward to outdoor winter recreation because there is none. You might go bowling. You probably put on weight. If you are lucky you might have a snowmobile, but it's a pain in the ass to get out. More likely your asshole neighbor has one, and it is loud. In early April you convince yourself it is spring because it is Tigers Opening Day. You overpay for tickets to the game, tell yourself 45 degrees isn't that cold, and cheer when the sun peeks out at the end of the fourth inning. That is the light at the end of the tunnel. Winter in Michigan is a miserable, miserable time. 

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