How northerners deal with the cold

When I travel, people are frequently baffled that I’m not good at dealing with cold temperatures, despite being from a cold country. Why is that?, they ask, and so I asked myself, and now I think I know why.

See, what living in the north has taught us isn’t to endure being cold. It is that heat is scarce, and how to shield ourselves from the cold.

Because being warm in the north is, if not actually scarce, then at least something that cannot be taken for granted to come for free, we have learned to treasure it. I prefer a shower that’s almost too hot, whereas my friend Yon, who grew up in Cali where it’s 26 degrees every day year round, likes it when it’s a little too cold. To him, cold is scarce. A sample of two, I know, but I think it’s telling.

As for maintaining our body temperature, our techniques include staying indoor by the fireplace, covering ourselves up in plenty of clothes, hats, gloves, and boots, and dressing is multiple layers, with warm underwear, shirts, sweaters, wind-breakers, jackets, coats, etc. We always have an extra piece of clothing within reach, which we put on at the first sign of feeling cold.

So really, whereas people in warm places are used to the temperature swings that occur with clouds, sunset, or a little wind, and like getting a little chill, we are used to the same temperature every hour of the day, every hour of the year, and we don’t like the cold, so we immediately reach for a thin sweater, and Yon’s father goes “Why do you do that? I thought you were used to the cold!”


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