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

Baby It's Cold Outside
by James Glaser
January 4, 2008

At least for Florida it is cold. After over a year of being down here in the Sunshine State, when it gets to twenty four degrees, you feel like you're in Minnesota on a day that the temp is heading down to about zero.

It is pretty easy to spot the plants that can't handle the freezing weather. Their leaves turn a shade darker, and they look limp. Actually, they look dead, and they are. Yesterday I said goodbye to my petunias, but I think they might just pull through.

Mark, the man in the studio next to mine in Railroad Square, is also a transplant from Northern Minnesota. He took a ride back home for Christmas and reported the first morning up there it was 15 below zero. So, since he was just back from the ice box, this cold snap was nothing for him. I did notice he had his wood stove cranked right up there though.

This morning, heading out to work was a real reminder of being back home. First thing I had to do was set the temperature control to warm and wait for the needle to start moving before I turned the fan on. Back home I would make it about a mile and a half before any heat started coming out of the vent. That was with the radiator covered with card board and the head bolt heater plugged in all night. I can still remember how stiff the truck was with frozen tires and shocks. A few miles down the road and the ride smoothed right out. This morning it took about four blocks before the heat started to rise on the gauge.

Down here in Florida it only seems cold because we are not used to it. Every studio in Railroad Square had a note on the door yesterday afternoon that said to leave your faucet dripping so the pipes would not freeze. Mark told me how back in the early 80's every pipe in the whole Square froze because it got down to about eight degrees on a holiday weekend, and there was nobody around to keep the water running. I think at eight degrees, you would need a pretty good stream of water going to keep it from freezing.

It took a while to get started working, but after just a few minutes I had to take my jacket off as I warmed right up. After that it was nice, and most of the day I had the overhead door up as I was cutting boards on the table saw which is right up against that door.

I think in the heated section of the shop it was probably 65 and about 45 in the back where the power tools are. It was colder yet when I opened that big door. When I rented the place a while back, I installed an AC unit first thing, but I only have a small electric heater to keep the place warm, and really that is all I need. I think I worked nine winters outside in International Falls, and you learn that once you start working everything warms up. The secret is, don't stop. Really though, when it is in the 30's you couldn't have nicer working weather. All day I kept thinking about all the guys in Minnesota out on the ice jigging a line through a hole waiting for the fish to bite. I don't think I miss that at all.

Come to think about it, I don't miss that much of the winter. I do miss the sound of the wind through the trees when it gets really cold and the loud snap of the maple trees when they crack at about thirty below. And I guess the groans and moans of the ice on the lake at night or in the early morning when the sun hits is something to remember.

Also the Northern Lights are well worth getting out in the cold to see. But all in all, I think I'll take the nice weather down here. I can handle 24 degrees once in a while, and like I said, the last real cold snap they had was over twenty five years ago. After over 50 years in the Northland, I can wait another 25 years before I face another cold winter day.

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