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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Do People In The Midwest Actually Like The Weather Here?!!

I was on vacation in sunny southern California, but now I am back in the dreary, snow-bound midwest!

It was a much-needed vacation after all the politics and busy-work at work. Moreover, as it does every year, the weather in the midwest went from barely tolerable to completely unfit for human habitation over the past couple of months. So, I jumped at the opportunity to take a week off from all this nonsense and get away from it all.

We flew and drove down to southern California, and spent a wonderful week there, soaking in the warm weather and beautiful surroundings. Beaches and mountains, roads clinging to cliffs above the ocean, it was all so beautiful, and brought back memories from when I lived in this part of the country as a graduate student.

And then I had to leave that all behind and move to the midwest for my my job. What a bone-headed move! Flat, featureless land for as far as the eye can see, winters that would send polar bears scampering for cover, and summers that only a camel would appreciate or tolerate! Ah, the joys of scraping ice off the windshield of your car for 10 minutes at the beginning of each day in winter (which lasts about 6 to 8 months by my estimation every year, global warming or no global warming). And the joy of wrapping yourself up in 8 layers of clothing just to go out and get your mail from the mailbox at the end of the driveway. That is assuming you don't take a spill on the way there or back because of the snow and ice on the driveway.

And don't even get me started on the effect looking at mushy, black snow piled up in heaps all over the place has on one's psyche. It is ugliness unrivaled by little else in the world. And then you get a few days of good weather in spring followed by a scorching hot and humid summer that taxes your sweat glands and leaves you stinking at the end of each day. It is no wonder that midwesterners go crazy when the weather forecast calls for that perfect day of 80 degree high and sunshine.

Well, that is what you get all year round in southern California. No jackets and boots to bother with. You can walk around in t-shirts and shorts and flipflops all year round. And many do! When I was over there, I always thought that the job of a weather forecaster in southern California was probably the easiest in the world: you predict 80 degrees and sunny skies every day of the year and you would not be off more than a dozen days of the year! And not by so much that people would care anyways!

To be absolutely frank, I consider the climate in the midwest unfit for human habitation! I don't know what the first settlers were thinking when they came upon this godforsaken landscape. Yeah, the ground is frozen solid half the year, and the other half of the year, we don't need any fire to cook our food! Excellent, let us settle down here, so that we can be safe from our enemies and competitors, because they would never think to look for us (or any other humans for that matter) here!!

Now, there are people who have actually told me that they like the weather here! One often-touted justification I have heard is that they like the fact that there are 4 seasons in the midwest, as if there is something magical and mystical about the number 4 as opposed to 2 or 18 or 32! These are the same people who will go wild when one of those rare 80-degree, sunny days comes along, but they will pretend that having such days more than once in a blue-moon would somehow be very inconvenient for them!

My personal suspicion is that most people who profess to like this weather have nothing to compare it against. I once had a person ask me point-blank whether the climate in southern California was that much different from that in the midwest. I must admit that the question dumb-founded me for several seconds! Obviously, there was no point in trying to explain the difference to someone like that because when you have no experience of something you just can't wrap your brain around it. It would be like trying to explain icebergs and glaciers to a nomadic tribe in the Sahara desert!

As for the people who actually know about the climate in other parts of the country or world, I think most of them live in the midwest only because they are forced to. I count myself in this lot. I have a pretty specialized skills that are needed only by a few companies in the country. And none of them are in southern California. So, it is a choice between staying in my field of employment or moving to where I like the weather, but doing something else for a job. And doing something else for a job would probably have me earning too little to afford to live comfortably in southern California!

And then there are those who live here because their families moved here in a moment of weakness in their past and now they are stuck here just because they want to be near family.

As for the rest, I think they have taken positive thinking to a whole new unintended level. They have actually brainwashed themselves into thinking that the climate here is good by lying to themselves often enough and forcefully enough! I can't find any other way to explain how anyone could actually consider this weather tolerable, leave alone likable! After all air conditioning was invented specifically to get the "weather" inside a room to resemble southern California's, not the midwest's, and I assume there was a reason for that!!

Maybe they like slipping and sliding around in the dirty mush that the snow turns into a couple of days after falling on the ground. Maybe they like their cars consumed by rust in a few years because of the salt used to melt the snow in the winter. Maybe they like tornadoes and thunderstorms because of their sense of adventure. Maybe they like their roads torn apart and potholed by the incessant cycles of freezing and thawing here. Maybe they like staring at bare, leafless trees half of the year. Maybe they like the variety of clothing they can try out here, all at the same time, in layer after layer. Maybe they like the pleasant feeling of circulation returning to their ears and fingers after 5 minutes out in the cold more than they hate the unpleasant feeling of circulation stopping in these parts of their bodies earlier.

Maybe there is some other secret reason why people who would not normally consider themselves masochists would choose to like this kind of weather! Maybe they can let me know what else they like using the comments! Stay warm!!

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