Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Culture of Winter

I guess I'm in a wintry mood. Not quite got the "Holiday Spirit" yet (it's COLD, darn it), but I am focused on the snow outside my door.

I've lived in a lot of different places. But the best "Winter Culture" I've ever experienced was in Minneapolis. Zuerich, Switzerland, comes in a close second, but I still miss Minneapolis' Winter Carnival, the Skyway, the litter heaters at bus stops. All of it was created with a cultural understanding that one should be outside in the wintertime.

And that comes from the Scandinavian immigrants who populated the Great Lakes region in the early 1800s. Being so far North, the area gets a lot of sunlight, but little UV radiation (it's reflected away because of the angle the northern regions are to the Sun). So people that lived there realized over time that the healthier kids were the ones that spent a lot of time outdoors. This has to do with the relationship of skin color to the production of Vitamin D, but that's a story for another blog post. :)

The culture grew around this realization. And when many of them moved to The New World, they took this belief that children should play outside A LOT with them. Here's a great link if you want to know more:

Wyoming has a slightly different relationship with winter. It's more of a "hunker down" mentality that serves people well in the West, where resources during the winter are so scarce (particularly in the past), you might not make it to see Spring.

When people have the app for the Wyoming Department of Transportation on their phone, you know something's different. Heck, I don't think there are too many other states that even HAVE an app for their DOT. And when you have to really plan for a night stay along I-80 because there is a high probability of it being closed at any given moment, you know this is serious stuff.

I see many comments on social media, or even just on TV, that tell me that the rest of the country thinks The West is a bit ridiculous. The idea of scare resources boggles most Americans in other places.

But it's still true here. UPS actually charges a surcharge to deliver to most locations in Wyoming, because the entire state is considered "rural delivery." My town has one bakery. It cannot service the entire town, and so therefore it doesn't even try. They make only what they can sell between 6am and 2pm every day. So if the gas station runs out of (anything and everything), they have to wait for a truck to come from another state. This applies no matter what side of Wyoming your on.

All of this is worse in the winter, when these supply trucks can't get to some of the small towns (every town in Wyoming is a small town, btw) reliably. So the conservation of resources is still a survival skill here.

To be honest, it's where I'd want to be in a zombie apocalypse. Because people here still know how to make stuff, and save stuff. Watch out, America.

And if you feel like reading about how famous Wyoming is: The Five Coldest Cities in the World

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