The title phrase above (or something similarly worded) came across my Facebook feed one day while I was eating lunch at the Headwaters Cafe in St. Paul. I was not amused, but could see the humor in it.
How did a 30+ year resident of the Sunshine State end up in Minnesota in mid-January?! As a long-time volunteer in a winter sport (ice skating), I worked at the 2016 US Figure Skating Championships in St. Paul, Minnesota.
An email from a local on our crew assured me people do live and survive winter just fine in Minnesota.
As I planned my wardrobe for the trip, I had brief moments of doubt as to how I would keep warm, especially when temperatures dropped below zero . Except for snow boots bought after a huge snow storm when I was in Boston more than a decade ago, some cashmere-lined leather gloves and a pair of ear muffs, I didn’t have the clothes for a professional event in a winter climate. I called upon my long ago memories of living in Maine when I was a child for ideas. Warm coat – check. Gloves – check. Snow boots – check. Scarf – check. Supplement with stylish wool blend suits and wool dress pants – check. This was not going to be so hard after all.
When I got off the plane and walked to where I would catch the hotel shuttle, I could feel a creeping chill. As soon as I walked outside, I knew I might be in for a bit more than I bargained for. When I arrived at the hotel, the cold made it harder than normal to struggle with my gigantic suitcase full of winter clothes. A properly bundled up doorman complete with top hat at the St. Paul Hotel jumped to my aid.
I was to experience a few more cold shocks –
- Leaving the rink after the first night of events, I could feel my knees starting to freeze ever so slightly on the short walk to the car and this with lined wool dress slacks and tights on.
- The next morning I was greeted with a temperature of -12. My cheery local co-worker said at least it wasn’t the forecast of -17 to -18 it was supposed to be.
- My hotel room was very cold on the first day and had a drafty window due to being a historic property over 100 years old. It was explained that even recently constructed buildings with modern insulation, when the temperature drops into the minuses and stay there, you can still feel the cold inside. That was not a warming thought. I tested this out one night, touching the wall of my room and it felt cold despite a thermostat reading of 70 degrees.
- Sheets on the bed were frigid each night. Thank God for the cozy comforter to snuggle under.
- Wind chill is not fun, especially when combined with sub-zero temperatures!
Things did improve. The night of the predicted -17, three of us hardy souls walked briskly across Rice Park back to the hotel after dinner no worse for wear and no frostbite was incurred. I did this with my down coat clutched closed because the zipper had jammed!
As the days went by and temperatures rose into the lower double digits, it was not too bad to walk outside as long as the wind was not blowing. On the final day I was there, I actually walked a couple of blocks to a diner in a gentle snowfall and it felt pleasant. Yes, the girl from Florida described St. Paul weather as pleasant. Some days in St. Paul can be pleasant, but then again, I don’t think I want to spend months in it.
I will have to learn to survive the cold soon enough as my husband and I plan to retire to the incredibly beautiful state of Maine. Then again, we plan to have ‘thaw out’ time in Florida when it gets really bad.