A Cold Story

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This creek resisted freezing shut until late January. I crossed it every day going to and from school my first year.

This creek resisted freezing shut until late January. I crossed it every day going to and from school my first year.

Being in the deep freeze for a couple of days reminded me of something that happened when I was in grad school in Iowa. When I first arrived in Cedar Falls in the fall of 1997, the locals were determined to impress upon me the extent of the cold I was going to experience in an Iowa winter. I didn’t have a car, so I had to walk everywhere, and my first year I lived a mile or more from the school of music. Knowing there was nothing I could do about it except adjust, I got my attitude and my wardrobe set.

By the time my second winter rolled around, I had the routine down: long underwear, jeans and sweatpants over top; two pairs of socks, fur-lined boots and a pair of shoes to change into when I reached school. T shirt, sweat shirt, coat. Two scarves, earmuffs, a pair of gloves with mittens over top. I still got cold walking from point A to point B, but not dangerously so. And actually, I complained less than the locals did, because I figured I’d chosen this climate, so I needed to deal with it.

Ice skating at George Wyth Lake. It was a big lake, as you can see. One of the cooler experiences of my time in Iowa was getting to skate out in the middle. Our ponds at home rarely froze that solid, much less a lake.

Ice skating at George Wyth Lake. It was a big lake, as you can see. One of the cooler experiences of my time in Iowa was getting to skate out in the middle. Our ponds at home rarely froze that solid, much less a lake.

One day in my second year I bundled up in my dozen layers and went outside without checking the weather. As soon as I stepped out the door I realized it wasn’t as cold as I had been expecting. But I wanted to get up to school and practice, so I wasn’t going to take the time to disrobe. I just went ahead.

When I rounded the corner of the music school, I came face to face with a fellow graduate student who hailed from Canada. He was wearing a light jacket–unzipped–one pair of jeans, and Birkenstocks (no socks). He and I stopped and stared at each other. “Uh, Kate, it’s not that cold,” he said.

“It’s not that warm, either!” I said.

May your Wednesday be warmer than the last few days!

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