Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

The South Has Ruined Me
by James Glaser
February 11, 2011
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I can remember getting up and out the door early in the morning to start my truck at 40 below zero and thinking nothing of it. Once the oil pressure got up, I would start out breathing through my mouth into my jacket, so frost would not form on the windshield.

I would have to drive down my gravel road about a half mile, turn left onto the snow packed blacktop for another mile, and by then I could feel a faint bit of warmth coming out of the heater. Another mile or so and my whole body would start to relax as the heather started to really kick in. In Minnesota it doesn't really matter how fast your car or truck is, it doesn't even matter if it is nice looking or has a great radio, all that really matters is how good the heater is.

You give somebody a ride, and if you have a great heater, they will be sure to compliment you on it, but if your heater is lacking, they will offer to drive next time.

Now I am in the South, and people don't even think about car heaters. Here it is all about the AC. I should have remembered that the coldest I have ever been in my life was one Christmas morning in Memphis, Tennessee. I was in the Marines and had to fall out for an early morning inspection. I was shivering so badly the Officer had to ask me where I was from, and when I said Minnesota he thought I was sick, and he told me to report to the sick bay. For me that was great as I got out of the cold, and as soon as I warmed up I was fine.

Just a few minutes ago I walked out to my studio and I started to shiver. Even after starting to work and moving things around, that damp Southern cold seemed to sink into my bones. I think the South has ruined me for ever living in a cold climate again.

Never again will I go ice fishing. Skiing is out, and so is snowmobiling. I don't even want to think about Saint Paul's Winter Carnival.

Some people tell me it is the humidity that makes it seem so cold, but to me it doesn't matter what it is, cause I'm just out and out cold. I come inside and want to crank up the thermostat to 85. What I need is a good old barrel stove where you can see the sides glow red with heat when you have dry wood and the damper open all the way.

Down here my body aches when the temp gets down into the 40s and nap time is the high point of the day.

The first few years I was down here it didn't seem so cold. I was in Tallahassee and maybe all the asphalt ands concrete of the city kept it warmer. I think the first three winters it never got below freezing.

Now I am out in the country, about 10 miles south of the Georgia line, and it has been in the teens several times, but it always seems coldest when the sky is gray with rain, and the temp is in the 30s.

Like I said, I am now ruined for cold or even chilly weather. I have electric heaters in the studio, but when you are making saw or sanding dust, you want the doors open. When it is chilly, you really can't put a finish on wood, and it should be warmer for gluing things up.

It is a good thing that "winter" doesn't last that long down here. I was looking at the weather forecast, and this weekend it will be sunny and in the 60s. Hey, what do you know—it looks like I can say that I made it through another North Florida winter.

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