I’m a Wisconsin girl at heart. Yes, I root for the Badgers and the Packers. Yes, I know all about cheese curds. Yes, I’ve experienced school cancellation because it was -30 degrees out.
After spending my first twenty-four years in various parts of the Midwest, and then another four there following graduate school, the green, wooded landscape with all its joys (spring rains, summer sun, fall leaves) and foibles (deer ticks galore!) is nestled deep within me.
When I moved to California four years ago, people told me I’d change. I didn’t believe them. In many ways, I still don’t. But the proof is in the pudding, as they say, and here are a few surprising things that might also happen to YOU if you move somewhere warm from a colder climate.
1. Your blood thins out
I thought this idea was hogwash. Obviously it’s a metaphor — no one’s blood actually gets thinner when they move somewhere warmer. It simply means people start to get colder more easily when they live somewhere hot for awhile.
But… is that really true?
My first two California winters I swam in the ocean, wore sleeveless tops to the church in January, and regularly went without a jacket. I’d chuckle when kindly older ladies would threaten to cover me up with a blanket because I was making them cold.
“I’m from Wisconsin!” I’d crow, proudly. “I don’t get cold!”
I hate to admit it, but on this, my third full winter, I totally get cold. I’m now one of those silly California people wearing a puffy coat to the playground when it’s 55 degrees.
Oh, the shame.
2. You start to forget how incredible (and rare!) it is to have fresh produce year round
We are about to experience our first harvest from the garden beds in our backyard. It’s April. This is nonsense to 90% of America where it’s either too cold or too risky to put crops in the ground in the dead of winter.
My dad went to the grocery store when we were visiting my parents for Christmas and texted to see if we wanted anything. “Produce!” I texted, hungry for a green smoothie. He came home with bananas and oranges and apples.
“That’s all there was,” he said. “Well, that and some grapes that looked reeeeeally bad.” All the canned fruit cocktail I ate as a kid suddenly made sense.
The strawberries in my fridge right now? The organic ones grown from a farm twelve miles away? They are a legit miracle.
3. You buy sunscreen in bulk
I do miss the part of Midwestern winters that doesn’t require heaps of sunblock every single freaking day. SO. MUCH. SUNBLOCK.
4. You discover that shade is EVERYTHING
Back in the Midwest I’d park wherever. Here in California I will circle the lot until the onnnnnne spot with the decrepit tree hanging over it opens up. Why? Because that’s the difference between a car I can comfortably drive away in and one that holds a steering wheel HOTTER THAN THE SURFACE OF THE SUN.
I now understand why people walk with umbrellas when it’s not raining. As my Dad is fond of saying, “Mr. Sun is not your friend.”
Have you moved recently? What did you notice about your new climate?