Friday, December 04, 2009

Comparative Weather

Supposedly, we had a chance of snow flurries during morning rush hour, so because I am five, I looked out the window as soon as I got up this morning, and it was sunny! Now it's cloudy, but according to the radar, the snow is to the south of us. Instead, it's just cold. If we have to be cold, we should at least get something pretty to look at.

For those who were curious, I ended up not going grocery shopping. Instead, I bundled up and walked to the library, since I didn't make it on Wednesday and I'd just got the message telling me a book I'd been on the waiting list for was ready to pick up. While I was there, before I braved the cold again, I went to the coffee shop and had the best cup of hot cocoa, ever. I'm sure it was so good because it was loaded with high-fat milk or cream and topped with whipped cream, but it was divine. I also got a brownie. And here's why I love this little locally owned place: The brownies were displayed in the bakery case individually wrapped in plastic, so I was expecting to just get handed a plastic-wrapped brownie. Instead, they brought it out to me on a plate, with chocolate swirled over and around it, like at a fancy restaurant. You can tell the owner used to be a pastry chef at a 4-star hotel. This falls into the category of affordable luxury. For less than four dollars, I got a big cup of the best hot cocoa ever (with chocolate swirled on top of the whipped cream, I might add) and a brownie, all served with the elegance you'd see at a fine restaurant. I need to do that more often. And I need to take the long way around to walk there and back when I do. Carrying a backpack full of books adds to the workout, right?

And before any northerners accuse me of being a weenie about cold weather, I have to say that I think things feel colder here. I haven't lived my whole life in Texas. I've lived in Germany, and it seemed to feel less bitter there with several feet of snow on the ground than it feels here in the mid-40s. I've walked all over the place in New York with temperatures in the mid-20s and it didn't feel that bad (unless you get one of those bitter cross-town, river-to-river winds while you're on a cross street. And I don't recommend going to the top of the Empire State Building when it's 27 degrees and windy. Trust me on this.). I've been to Chicago a few times in the winter, and the temperatures will be in the single digits there, but then when I get home to temperatures in the mid-40s, I actually feel a lot colder -- in the same clothes.

Fortunately, the same thing seems to work in the summer (so I guess I can't accuse northerners of being weenies when they whine about high temperatures in the 80s). When I went to New York in August, the high for the day the first day I was there was supposed to be about 80. Here, 80 is almost borderline cool. You're not wearing a sweater, but you can be outside all day without feeling hot. But when I was walking around Central Park, I got uncomfortably hot. It felt like a truly hot day. People were sunbathing, which not too many people would do around here on an 80-degree day, and it was warm enough to be wearing just a swimsuit. When I got back to my hotel that evening, I caught the weather segment on the local news, and the weatherman teased it by saying the forecast missed the mark. I was sure he'd go on to say that it had been 95 or so. Nope. 76 -- in Central Park, where I'd been eating Popsicles and sweating. At 76 here, I'd be wearing long sleeves and wouldn't even open the windows.

I don't know if it's wind, humidity, the angle of the sun, or what, but it does seem like the temperatures feel colder here. I was chatting about this with some of my neighbors, who all moved here from elsewhere, and they agreed with me. The 105-degree summer days sound horrifying, but really they're only the equivalent of a 90-degree day up north. Meanwhile, 44 degrees doesn't sound all that cold, but it feels about like 20 degrees.

And it's currently 35 degrees, so I won't be leaving the house today. The neighborhood Christmas tree lighting is tonight, but I don't think I want to be standing around outside in the cold. I'll be warm inside, watching the series finale of Monk, the mid-season finale of White Collar, and then I'll catch the late-night repeat of the mid-season finale of As the Stargate Turns (for mocking purposes).

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