Chris Johnson: I've got a new perspective on cold

February 2, 2014 

This winter has proven to be an eye-opener for Southern folks like me who thought Polar Vortex was simply the name of some bad rock band or a kind of bear threatened by Arctic melt.

And, of course, we got our wintry mix of precipitation this past week. Seems like down South, our "snow" is always some mix of ice pellets, freezing rain, snowflakes and broken glass. Our snowballs are deadly weapons down here. "Snow" hurts down South.

When I was a kid, anytime it "snowed," the boys in my neighborhood always met behind the Lutheran church in town to play tackle football in the snow just like those NFL teams like the Packers, Bills and Bears got to do from time to time. By the time we finished, the pristine white field would be tainted with our blood. Or as we called it, fun.

But just a few days before the "snow" hit here, I was in Indianapolis with my wife for a conference. We arrived on a Thursday afternoon, when the temperature was 7 degrees and falling. Fortunately there was a nice 20 mph breeze to cool things off as we walked from our hotel to a nearby convenience store to get an emergency winter storm preparedness kit -- or as my wife calls it, wine.

And when I say "nearby," I mean the store was maybe two-tenths of a mile from the hotel. I learned that two-tenths of a mile in the snow, wind and 7 degrees is kinda like 47 miles on a nice day back home. The wind blew tears out of my eyes, tears that froze to my cheeks. After about 20 seconds, my ears were in pain from the biting cold and my wife's chattering words about really, really not liking the cold. Like I was, she was raised in south Georgia and considers anywhere above LaGrange to be "the North."

The next morning it was minus-4 when I walked outside. Later that night, it snowed. The next day, it soared up to 25 degrees, but with tropical storm-force winds that blew snow into my face and felt decidedly untropical.

After experiencing such extremes, I wondered why anyone would want to live in Indiana. Or Michigan. Or Minnesota. Or Canada. Or Alaska. Or north of LaGrange. Man is not meant to live in such climes, and from all the whining I heard from my wife, apparently neither is woman. This is why mankind created global warming -- which I now wholeheartedly support. I support anything that allows me to wear shorts all the time and gets me much closer to the ocean (or vice-versa).

I don't want to have to bundle up and cut a hole in the top of a lake when I go fishing. I don't want to lose important -- or unimportant -- body parts to frostbite. And I don't want to trade my frozen margaritas for hot chocolate.

I prefer Southern winter weather, and that's why I'll always live somewhere well below LaGrange, Georgia. Sure, we may get "snow" once every three years or so and northerners make fun of us because we flock to grocery stores to stock up on supplies as if it won't be 60 degrees in two days. And, sure, our snowmen are some sad-looking creatures after a few hours. But such winter events are unusual down South where we usually have about one month each of winter, spring and fall and about nine months of summer.

I'm cool with that.

Connect with Chris Johnson at

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