Monday, January 26, 2015

A Big Move: Weather

I took this photo from our porch right after I got home from work today- bracing for the big storm hitting the East coast tonight. Isn't it moody? We're preparing ourselves for 20"-24" over the next 24 hours. Work and school has already been canceled, there is a travel ban across the entire state that goes into effect at midnight (literally no travel allowed!), and we're getting robo-calls about things like not using a generator indoors if we lose power. I can't help it- I have a strange sense of anticipation. It's nice to feel cozy and make plans with Tate that involve popcorn, movies and hot cocoa. I am less enthused about the fact that I will actually spend my entire day tomorrow shoveling our driveway.

Which brings me to my first Big Move post- weather. You guys, weather is a game-changer. I had virtually no idea of how much of an impact it has on everything (literally everything) you do until I was in a new climate. So here are some lessons learned:

  • Don't fall into the trap of thinking that seasons will be the same. While we were well-prepared for the harsh winters from a mental and emotional standpoint, I think we were not prepared (and therefore shocked) by the differences in spring, summer and fall. We have had to learn how to deal with humidity and insects, new allergies, static cling, and even differences in gardening (trust me, it is much harder to grow a vegetable garden in Massachusetts than Oregon). Although I think most people would expect winter to be the hardest season for us, in many ways, I think it's summer, in large part because we have had to make an adjustment we weren't expecting. Which leads me to...
  • Don't have expectations about weather in the first year. Assume you know nothing, and approach every new season with a sense of curiosity. Go to Home Depot, explain you are new to the region, and ask if there is anything important you should know about the upcoming season. Doing this would have saved us a lot of frustration. And don't forget to ask about tools and equipment! We had never heard of a snow-blower or a roof rake before we moved here, and the fact that all snow shovels are not created equal was something we learned the hard way. 
  • Similarly, do the same thing at your favorite clothing stores. Before I moved here, I didn't own a pair of slippers. I thought Uggs were something you wore in an ironic way with a pair of shorts a tank top, and a scarf, a la the sorority girls at my SoCal college. I did not know about the importance of wool socks; or silk long underwear; or boots to walk the dog in. 
  • Consider your car. For example, I remember sitting in sunny Los Angeles watching commercials about remote start and thinking to myself "What kind of lazy, spoiled person can't even walk outside and turn on their own car?" Ditto about things like heated steering wheels. And then I moved here. And now I realize that these aren't ridiculous luxuries- that these are necessities when it is -15 outside and you have two toddlers and your purse and three lunchboxes and permission slips and and and to get in the car... We bought a new car when we moved here and I wish I had considered some of these things when we did it.
  • Buying clothes for a true four-season climate is very expensive. I still haven't been able to invest in a true winter wardrobe, so this means I go through the entire winter feeling sort of drab and not appropriate. Be prepared to buy new clothes that align with your new climate.
  • Be ready to feel like an idiot. Case in point- our first winter here, I went out and bought myself a snow scraper/brush for my car. And the first snow day, I proudly used it to dust off my car, then put it in the garage and drove away. IT NEVER EVEN OCCURRED TO ME THAT IT MIGHT SNOW WHILE I WAS AT WORK. So I came outside after a full day of work, and my car was covered- literally covered- in about a foot of snow. I had no mittens. And no brush/scraper, since I had left mine in the garage at home. Solution? I wrapped my hands in Tate's diapers (which are conveniently warm and waterproof) and used my diapered hands to scrape off my car. In my work parking lot. And you know what? I survived.
Sometimes I think I was SUCH an idiot not to know these kinds of things, but then I think about the fact that I was never exposed to any of it, and you really can't know what you don't know. You know?
Which, in any case, is probably the most important Big Move lesson of all. Places are different. Weather is different. You are an explorer in a new country. And that's ok. 

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