On Saturday, a new mosaic on a corner store at 32nd & Bryant was unveiled.
And not to be upstaged, Minnesota winter also unveiled itself with the first accumulation of snow, and even some hazardous driving conditions.
Minneapolis historically does well in quality-of-life studies, but when January howls in, I hear MN natives and non-natives alike questioning their sanity for living in this crazy state.
While sub-zero wind chills, lack of sunlight and treacherous sidewalks present genuine challenges for MN inhabitants, it seems that every complaint I hear steels my determination to turn winter into a triumph of will. On the subject of coping with winter, my friend Stephanie Molstad likes to imagine she is in Finland. Following Stephanie’s lead, I like to imagine I’m in the film Dr. Zhivago for a few months out of the year. I’m not sure which character–maybe Pasha.
Hats On to Winter!
But imagination aside, the key for enjoying winter is taking care to dress appropriately. A Swedish proverb says “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” This proverb may also be Norwegian, depending who you talk to. Either way, I’m mystified by Minnesotans who traipse around all winter hat-free. Coiffure be damned! My advice is find a warm hat that you like. REI has a good selection.
Loose Knits Sink Ships
Both of the above hats are knit, but lined in polar fleece for extra warmth. I have no patience for a loose knit that the wind blows right through!
This my Team Zissou hat. It has a fertilizer company patch on it.
When the temperature drops, you will appreciate good ear coverage like on this Carthart hat. And–check it out:
This one is perfect for under my bike helmet. I just need to remove the helmet padding and the velcro sticks right to the hat for a secure fit.
But when it’s really cold:
Put on a sweater
We all know it’s much more efficient to adapt our clothing rather than the thermostat temperature whenever we can; but a reminder never hurts. Above is Jimmy Carter who was ridiculed in 1977 for very sensibly advising Americans to dress warmer and turn down their thermostats to conserve energy. And below is a link to a blogger teaching you how to become rich, but advising the same thing:
Take some time to perfect your programmable thermostat if you have one. If you get chilled, try a little exercise or a cup of hot tea before you crank up the heat. Both will improve your mood on a dark winter day.
And beneath the sweater?
Silk long underwear is wonderful for women and men both. It adds a breathable layer of warmth but is so thin and lightweight that it fits comfortably under almost anything you wear. My first set was from LL Bean, a gift from my mom; I’ve found them cheaper on close out at: www.sierratradingpost.com
Smartwool leggings provide a more substantial layer of warmth than silk. You run the risk of getting overheated wearing them all day indoors, but they are great to wear with skirts and on bitter cold days. Very breathable and cozy.
I’m positively evangelical about Smartwool knee high socks! I’d like to buy the world a pair. I love knee highs because I can’t feel cold air creeping up my pant legs. Because wool is so breathable and doesn’t hold odors you can wear Smartwools multiple times between washings.
I winterized these regular leather boots by buying them a half size larger so I can wear Smartwool knee highs underneath. They also have enough room for an insole cushion which adds extra comfort and insulation. This way I can stay warm all day without clomping around in bulky moon boots.
I love wool! Perhaps it’s my Norwegian and Swedish heritage. Here is an average winter workday outfit for me. Silk long underwear top under merino wool turtleneck under wool dress; footless cotton tights under Smartwool leggings under Smartwool knee high socks under knee high boots.
My grandma gave me these great boots for Christmas a few years ago. They feel like I am wearing cozy slippers all day long. The exceptional warmth apparently comes from the fact that these boots are so supple and flexible, which allows better blood circulation. On the down side they are fussy to get on, and the traction isn’t great. The sole is designed more for tromping through the snow rather than salty city sidewalks, but still I recommend this awesome MN boot.
Triumph of the parka.
Layering for warmth is great, but if you plan on truly making a go of it as a Minnesotan, why not invest in a toasty parka with a nice warm hood? Do you understand what it means to be able to get out of a bitter wind any time you choose by simply raising your hood and turning the other way? Even if you only wear it 2 weeks out of the year, you’ll enjoy it for the next 20 years. I wear mine for about 4 months straight, and it gives me a certain confidence every time I walk out the door. I can do it! I can walk to the store! I can make it around the lake! I can survive until spring!
And so can you. Thanks for reading the Wednesday Post.