Prior to moving to the Midwest, a day like today (with temperatures 32 degrees above zero) would have me bundled up in a turtle-neck sweater, wool socks, boots, mittens, and a warm hat. So when I first experienced what cold REALLY feels like, including temperatures in the extreme negative numbers, my normal wardrobe just didn’t suffice.
I recall my first brisk day in North Dakota. True to self, I pulled on my warmest sweater and broke out the winter coat. As I walked into work that day, I remember my coworkers looking at me in their short sleeved shirts and wind breaker and stating, “Wow, you’re in for a long winter.” That was no lie. By mid-November I had already broken in my absolute warmest attire. I mean, what else can you put on that keeps you warmer than a down parka with heat warmers in your shoes? The solution: long-johns. I wore them under everything. From jeans to dress pants. Whether I was outside or inside. Long-johns were a must.
By the next winter, something began to change. On that first cold day in winter, I pulled on a similar wardrobe I had worn the year before. The difference this time? I was sweating up a storm. And while the hot-pink long johns did indeed make an appearance on those particularly bone-chilling days, the usage was few and far between.
So here we are, in the midst of my third winter in the Midwest, and the long-johns sit folded neatly in my drawers, begging to be worn. And while I know it has been relatively mild thus far, something tells me that unless I decide to take my first ice-fishing trip this year, they may stay in that drawer all winter. You see, I think throughout the process of “becoming Midwestern”, my blood has literally thickened.