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Garvey: Midwestern weather: The worst, other than everywhere else

By Georgia Garvey - | Mar 14, 2023

It’s a cold March day in the Midwest, with fresh-fallen snow on the ground, and this is about the time every year when I consider grabbing the family and absconding to some southern climate, escaping like a thief in the night to any place you don’t have to have to wear snowshoes on spring break.

Yes, the winter weather (and sometimes the fall weather and usually the spring weather) is terrible in the Midwest.

The air whips in over our 10 million lakes, and the closer you are to the water, the worse it gets. In Midwestern cities, tall buildings create icy wind tunnels, and sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much thermal underwear you’re wearing, you still eventually become certain that hell must not be hot but Minnesota-in-January cold.

“But, the summer!” Midwesterners remind ourselves, thinking about how we blossom in the sun, shedding our puffy coats and crowding into farmers markets. There’s a solid two months where the weather’s perfect in the Midwest, and we experience the same kind of forgetfulness that causes women to have more than one baby and people to sign up for multiyear gym memberships.

In the long winter, though, Midwesterners reconsider our choices. We have longing thoughts, reveries, about other places in the U.S.

Should we move to California, Louisiana, Florida, Colorado, Arizona — places where people look down on our weather with a mixture of pity and schadenfreude?

Well, I’m here to tell you, no. Don’t do it. They may not have the punishing Midwestern winters, but their weather has its flaws, too. Envy them not, cold-weather denizens.

In California, you’ve got droughts and mudslides and earthquakes and fires — biblical meteorological events that seem to come as punishment both for being spoiled the rest of the year and for giving rise to an ever-increasing supply of Kardashians. There’s a permanent haze of smog over Los Angeles, and the water at a Pacific Ocean beach is as icy as Lake Michigan in spring.

True, the only things icy about Arizona are their attitudes toward Democrats, but the weather there is no great shakes, either. The entire state shimmers in the heat like an empty Walmart parking lot, waves of radiant energy rising from the pavement. It’s so hot in Arizona, opening your front door is like opening a convection oven. Virginia may be for lovers, but Arizona is for lizards.

Now, when it comes to ovens, the chefs in New Orleans certainly operate theirs with uncommon skill, but the sticky weather there wins no prizes. The air in the city is as heavy as a crawfish etouffee, and the clouds just kind of give up every day around 2 p.m. and release the excess moisture as rain. You know who likes the weather in New Orleans? Cockroaches. It’s their Key West.

Speaking of Florida, I must admit, the state does perform a nifty trick, combining Arizona’s heat with New Orleans’ humidity in a climate only an alligator could love. Air conditioning is your only weapon. My Greek grandmother thought air conditioning made you sick, something I never believed until I walked into a Florida store and felt the sweat on my arms instantly freeze in protest.

The only place I’ve been with truly enviable weather is Colorado. It’s warm in the summer and, thanks to the high altitude and low humidity, the winters don’t feel as punishing. True, you need a graphing calculator to determine recipe cooking times and you walk everywhere through a fog of marijuana smoke, but that’s a small price to pay for getting both snow on Christmas and swimming pools in the summer.

But you know what? Like most Midwesterners, I’m not going anywhere, even to Colorado. Because, really, we don’t live here for the weather. We live here for the friendly people, the fatty food and the way the rest of the country forgets we exist.

We may hate the cold, but that just makes us ever more resistant to letting it defeat us.

Plus, it’s nice here, even when you’re shoveling the sidewalk in April.

That’s what I’m telling myself, anyway.

To learn more about Georgia Garvey, visit GeorgiaGarvey.com.


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