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Surviving The Deep Freeze

When January hits in Wisconsin, it only takes10 seconds outside, and my nose is full of snotsicles. A average check of the weather will show an unsurprising 16 degrees—that’s Fahrenheit, with a wind chill of 3 degrees.During that time of year, “cryogenically frozen” rings a little too close to home. I’ve had to go through this 25 times, and now I’d like to share a little wisdom with all those unfortunate souls who will soon have to brave the artic months.

Warm Up. Hot chocolate. Hot tea. Hot java. There are plenty of drinks and places to get them to help you heat up from the inside. But if you really need a quick fix, just pour it all over you. Sure, you might get a little wet but the instant warmth is well worth it.

Suit Up. When Jack Frost starts nipping at your nose, bite back. If you’re living somewhere cold, make sure that every single inch of skin is covered to prevent frostbite. Mittens and gloves for your hands. Fur-lined hats. Scarves knit by grandma. Gore-Tex jackets. Long johns with those button-back-bottoms. Snow-pants, wool and electric socks, hand-warmers, toe warmers. Boots the size of a small car. Fifteen layers should just about do the trick. Just make sure you go to the bathroom before you head out into the elements. That’s just fair warning.

Hibernate. Baby, it’s cold outside. So just stay in. Build a fire in the fireplace and toast some marshmallows. Hide out under a pile of blankets. Curl up with a nice book and burn it for warmth as you finish each page. You could also live life through movies — forget about reality. If bears can make it through the winter hiding out in a cave, so can we. Suddenly sitting around the house playing video games and watching TV all day isn’t about being lazy; it’s about survival.

Ignore. When you think about it, the sub-zero wind chills aren’t so bad after all. Once I had a roommate who went the entire winter wearing just T-shirts and shorts to class. Sure, his skin had a bluish tint for months and he still shivers constantly, but he’s alive! And of course every New Year’s Day, thousands of seemingly crazed people take the Polar Bear plunge into bitterly cold water. Do they die? No, they’re fine … uh-huh. Maybe it’s just a mental thing … which reminds me of the elderly man I saw last week wandering down the street wearing a white helmet, oversized parka, big boots and boxers.

Play. No matter what, your extremities will start tingling as you lose feeling from exposure. So if you can’t beat the cold, why not go ice skating, sledding, skiing, snowboarding, and fight with snowballs. There are plenty of outdoor fun and games to enjoy in the winter months. But whatever you do, don’t stick body parts to cold metal poles. You’ll probably get stuck there until birds start flying north for the summer.

Escape. There are some places where it’s above freezing. Believe it or not, they are out there. I’ve seen them on TV and heard about them in books and magazines. You can even find pictures of them on the Internet. Call a travel agent or just head for the nearest airport if you’re afraid you can’t take any more. But be forewarned, if you get away, it will only be colder when you come back and everyone you know will probably want to shove your head into a snow bank.

Dream. Maybe some day it will get warm. Maybe the sun will come out and we can all get together for a nice picnic and sing songs. Everyone will be smiling and wearing less than five layers of clothing. And the streets will be paved with gold and angels will be floating around playing harps all day long. Some day …

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Pray. Oh dear God, please make it warmer! If I can’t feel my fingers I can’t turn the pages of my Bible! On second thought, I will be a missionary to somewhere in South America! What’s worse, 40 days in the desert or 150 in Wisconsin? Mercy! Mercy!

Whine. Write an article about how cold it is. Fake some pride in toughing the cold while being jealous of people living on sunny coasts soaking up the rays year-round. I dare you guys to come up here for a week in January. We’ll just see how you do in a tank top and board shorts. Seriously though, I can’t feel my toes.

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