I love the cordiality of my Nort’woods brothers and sisters.
It came to mind this week as we were hit with a snow storm and sub-zero weather and I remember coming home last February when we had a series of temperatures close to 40 below.
Temporarily staying at the Steakhouse and Lodge, I trudged from my room to the restaurant assuming I would be the only one out on such a night. But I ended up with about 40 other people having dinner in the middle of the week.
After all, what makes someone hungrier than temperatures that can knock your ass off?
People warmed up with a cocktail and then rebalanced with a good steak or pasta.
I know that in my two previous towns in southern Indiana and North Carolina, cold temperatures shut down towns. People would save food for those times as I, a son of the Northwoods, wandered around town looking for a decent pho. Vietnamese soup is best served to combat the cold.
Here we add a few layers of clothing and go. Or, if you’re like me, you don’t add clothes when you just run a few quick errands, knowing you’ll be cold for a short time and warm up quickly.
A guy stopped me at the grocery store the other day while I was loading up my car with groceries. I had a windbreaker.
“What? Not cold enough for you?” he said.
“It’s all in your head,” I joked.
“Yeah,” he said. “Until your fingers freeze and fall off.”
He was right.
Enjoyed driving down the main street in Hayward to find a parking spot so I could watch the Packers-Vikings game with other enthusiasts. No space to be had until my third lap of the block. I had seen people earlier in the day shopping, almost hanging out on the street with no fear of body parts coming loose.
When I stopped at Nick’s Family Restaurant in Spooner for lunch on Monday, the parking lot was packed. The special was pork with mashed potatoes and gravy. This lunch in itself is at least a layer of clothing.
This week’s temperatures reminded me of an old story by Garrison Keillor of “Prairie Home Companion”. A former classmate had returned to Lake Wobegon for a class reunion. He had moved to Hawaii after graduating and never returned until he attended one of those gatherings that end in a zero or a five digit number. He listened to the weather on the radio where the meteorologist warned to stay outside for more than 20 minutes. “Why, asks the visitor, would you choose to live in a place where time can kill you? »
Good question, although one might wonder the same for places with wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes.
In North Carolina, a few hurricanes blew. I didn’t care. For a while, my city of Burlington was “in the cone,” a term for the direction of the storm. Doug, the dog from the movie “Up”, came up to me. I don’t like the cone.
Another time we got 10 inches of snow — an avalanche in the south. Unlike my co-workers, I didn’t stock anything because a McDonald’s, Arby’s, and Waffle House were all within a four-block radius.
But they closed. For a week.
I was surprised that the McDonald’s was closed because I was the store manager in Chippewa Falls. We once stayed open during a 24 inch snowfall. More a sign of the apocalyptic times was the closing of the Waffle House. There is a southern measure of damage to an area based on how long the restaurant has been closed after an event.
It was the week I was living off food from the newspaper vending machines. Oh, sodium, my illicit love.
In other places I went through whiteouts due to lake effect snow. One winter in Valparaiso, Indiana, it snowed every day. In another whiteout as I drove from Erie, PA back to Oil City, the snow was so heavy I couldn’t see the front of my hood. So I drove about 10 mph first to the left until I heard the soundtrack, then slightly to the right for the other soundtrack.
I would call it a white-knuckle ride, but it was more like a soft sob ride.
Every place has its extreme weather but here we seem rather pragmatic. It’s snowing, we’re plowing. It freezes, add another layer. It’s warming up, grab a six pack and head into the water.
By the way, we’ll take a sixer when it’s freezing too.
We are adaptable that way.
Rich Jackson is editor and general manager of the Sawyer County Record. He can be reached at (715) 718-6445 or [email protected]