Anyone just arriving here after living in Southern California for eleven years can expect some necessary November adjustments to be looming. And I mean adjustments to below zero temperatures. To strong winds. To weird icy particles that smack you in the face.
But I’ve been getting ready for two months now. And gradually, over the last sixty days, I realized that I’ve never known anything about cold weather. I had heard that there were people who actually liked frigid, polar weather—but I’d never met one.
Actually, I can’t remember ever hearing anyone in Dickinson say that they loved the cold. My impression is that living with bizarre cold means maintaining a “peaceful coexistence” for North Dakotans. In fact, it seems people here are more likely to quietly layer up their clothes than even mention nasty weather.
Now, the layering—that’s something we can all get behind. It really helps with aching wind chill discomfort, and it actually makes me feel like I’m DOING something about the weather. I’ve developed three outerwear outfits that I sincerely consider a strong offense against bad old cold weather. I have my 25 degrees to 10 degrees ensemble, my 10 degrees to minus 10 below zero outfit (which is mostly adding really bulky accessories) and, finally, my polar expedition getup, which REI promises will handle temps to 40 below zero.
Now, I don’t mind admitting to an irrational fear of the cold. I knew it would snow last night (while I was asleep and couldn’t do anything to protect myself), and that scared me. But I had my snow tires on, my oil pan heater installed, and three major league ice scrapers under the car seats. I thought I was ready; I had taken steps. But those troubling, barely perceptible, irrational fears were still there, making spooky, low-frequency whale sonar noises just beyond the boundaries of my cerebral cortex.
To defeat those fears, I didn’t have to research anything, buy from a website, or ask any embarrassingly dumb questions. I just did what I always do—I lit three candles before I went to bed, and I let them burn all night. Worked like a charm.