Are people in Wisconsin built to withstand the cold or do they just have better tools to fight it?

Sometimes I wonder how people in Wisconsin can handle such extreme winter temperatures. Is there something different in their bodies like thicker skin or warmer blood? Or do they have a different set of tools to work with? I have yet to experience my first “real Winter” in Wisconsin, but I got pretty excited when all my new Winter gear arrived in the mail. Already I’m noticing some major differences in how So Cal and Wisconsin prepare for winter.

Maybe So Cal Doesn’t Even Sell “Real Winter” Clothes…?

In So Cal and especially during my grad school stint at UC Davis, I was the girl who is always cold. I would dress up in several layers to try to keep myself warm – leggings-under -jeans, tank top-under-long-sleeve-T-shirt-under-jacket-under sweatshirt. Despite being “Layers Girl”, I was always miserable when the temperature dropped below 60*F.

“Set me on fire and I might be warm enough”, I joked.

“I’m warm-hearted but cold-blooded – I need a heat lamp like a lizard”, I would say.

I always assumed there was something about me like a genetic deficiency that made me too thermodynamically efficient (saving every Calorie instead of losing it/burning it as heat).

Moving to Wisconsin has shown me that maybe it’s not (just) me, maybe it’s also the clothes I had. The warmest jacket I ever bought was a snowboarding jacket I found on Black Friday in High School. I loved that jacket, and I wore it all the time during Winter Quarter at UC San Diego. That thing doesn’t hold a candle to my new North Face jacket though. I don’t know how exactly it keeps me so warm, but wearing it indoors makes me so warm it’s  uncomfortable.

Before I bought the North Face jacket, I went shopping for a warm Winter coat in a So Cal mall. I found something with a furry hood that came down to my mid-thighs, but it was vetoed by a friend from Chicago. Somehow she could tell that jacket would be warm enough for So Cal, but not warm enough for a Midwest winter. It reminded me of the oxymoron “winter clothes” I’ve seen in So Cal before, like the puffer jackets with a faux fur hood but no sleeves; the UGGs that are super-warm, but not water-proof, and so on.

Maybe buildings in Wisconsin are better insulated…?

The other thing I’ve noticed is there are subtle differences in the windows and doors. The windows seem to have thicker glass, and the doors seem to have thicker seals on the bottom. With my last apartment in Huntington Beach, there was a visible gap between the floor and the bottom of the door. It wasn’t a problem with the door, but with the door frame. Doors in Wisconsin don’t drag on the floor, but they do seem to lock in more snug with the door frames when they are closed.

It’s not just the seal of the door, but the number of doors too. In So Cal, it’s not unusual to have a screen door. In Wisconsin, it’s not uncommon to have both a glass door and a front door. In So Cal, walking into a building usually means you go through one door, and you’re inside. Here in Wisconsin, many buildings have two sets of doors. Going through the first set of doors means you’re no longer outside, but you’re still not really in the building you’re visiting either.

Maybe this Winter all my new gear will keep me warm enough…?


Maybe it’s already starting – I’m getting tougher? More Winter Adept…?

When I was taking Gjalla outside to help her expend her morning burst of energy, it was cold – like 35 degrees cold! I had on jeans, a long sleeve T-shirt under a warm puffy jacket, a scarf, and a beanie. I wasn’t too cold to play, but I was cold enough to be grateful to go back inside. A friend who was staying with me at the time pointed out that my heat was off and the indoor temperature was 62. Normally that would be WAY too cold for an indoor temperature for me, but because it was so much warmer than being outside, I didn’t notice my heat was off. Maybe that’s how it starts – temperature perseverance by temperature differential?


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