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In a previous life I had a couple of business acquaintances who were very good friends. One was an avid duck hunter of the "naming your kids Drake and Mallard" variety. The other was a firm believer that, since the Good Lord had given us central heat and air, it would be a borderline sin not to avail yourself of them at all times.

As with many of his persuasion, the duck hunter approached the pastime with a missionary's zeal. And that zeal was frequently focused on his indoor-loving buddy who finally, in a moment of weakness, agreed to go along with him to see what all the fuss was about.

From all accounts, weather on the morning of the event was beyond horrible. A devil's brew of freezing rain and sleet powered by a steady wind blew semi-ice in through every possible coat opening. The dogs sulked in the truck and then huddled together, looking pitifully at their owner. It was, in fact, one of the very worst of all possible days to be outside, much less outside in the sort of place ducks might be frequenting. And, compounding that was the reality that ducks had decided not to frequent that particular place on that particular day.

Eventually even the duck hunter had a rare moment of enlightenment and told his buddy it was probably time to call it a day. However, his friend said he actually wanted to stay a little longer. An hour, exactly.

"Why?" said the duck hunter.

"I want to stay one more hour so the next time you ask me, I'll be sure and remember why I don't want to go," his friend said.

I was reminded of that story when I walked out to the car earlier this week. And I remembered why I don't want to live up north.

Before we get too far, a couple of points. One, I have. Lived up north, that is. Seven long years -- elementary school to junior high -- and I am just now fully able to feel my fingers. Or at least I was until Tuesday.

Two, I'm sure there are lots of folks who have moved down here from up there and are quick to tell me just how many great things are going on north of the Mason-Dixon Line. And I listen to them, patiently, and occasionally nod. Then I say, "and yet you live down here now."

Problem is, for a few days, down here seemed an awful lot like up there. Minus the funny accents and kielbasa. But definitely plus the bone-chilling, mind-numbing cold.

And that's when I remembered what I'd tried so hard to forget. Namely that what we experienced for three whole days is what they experience for about seven (seems like more) months. And winters up there are hard.

Not "hard" as in, like exercising or not eating a plate full of brownies or yelling at the idiot who cut you off in traffic, which is to say, hard but good for you. Hard, as in an anvil dropping on your foot, except it keeps dropping from potentially October through March.

Hard, as in, a trip to the store that under normal circumstances takes about 10 minutes, takes about 30. And that's to get out of the driveway.

Hard as in the walk to the mailbox, which is typically done almost on autopilot, becomes, basically, the Scott Expedition. Cut through the yard and you risk tracking snow into the house. Go around by the driveway and you risk slipping on the ice. Either way is going to involve a lot of pain.

At this point in my life, there's a broken hip out there with my name on it. No need to hasten the process.

Hard as in stuff just doesn't work. Like, your car battery. Or your fingers. Or the door. Or your desire to do anything but wrap yourself in blankets and sit on the sofa, binge-watching travel documentaries about any place warm and not experiencing missile warnings.

Down here we may joke about the oppressive August weather, asking if "it's hot enough for ya?" We sneer at western summers and their prissy "dry heat" (because real heat feels like it, dadgumit!). And, in moments of weakness, we even try to cover for the heat, claiming it's actually the soul-sucking humidity that's really to blame.

No one jokes about cold. They just ... endure.

And they are reminded why they don't want to do that anymore.

Commentary on 01/19/2018

Print Headline: Temps get the cold shoulder

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