The Maroon

Column: The southern “cold” is making me soft

The Maroon

The Maroon

CAITLIN VANDERWOLF

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I received a Snapchat in early October from my best friend Julia Lake, a freshman at Franklin & Marshall College in my home state of Pennsylvania. She wore a scarf and a beanie and her nose was particularly red, assumedly from cold exposure.

The Snapchat was captioned: “20, feels like 18 wind chill.” I was astounded. I looked down at my shorts and flip-flops and thought, “It’s only October!” But then, October had always meant cold to me.

How could I have already forgotten the significance and brevity of northern autumn and the quickness with which fall fell in to winter?

Since that Snapchat, I’ve been repeatedly reminded of how differently northerners and southerners define “cold.”

My first New Orleanian Halloween is one concrete example. Backtrack: coincidentally, I spent this Halloween with my aforementioned best friend in her attic watching “Howl’s Moving Castle.” We had had plans to dress up and go out with friends but eventually decided against risking it on the roads on account of the blizzard.

That’s right, the blizzard.

I distinctly recall watching the thick cascade of snow out the window behind the TV, illuminated by the motion-detecting light atop Julia’s house triggered by the thrashing of tree branches in the bitter storm. If we hadn’t been so lazy, we might’ve gone out despite the weather – everybody else would’ve been there, snow or no snow.

This Halloween, the rain was the disappointment of many of my new southern friends. I’ve noticed that rain here, in general, is a deterrent in terms of going anywhere, let alone trick-or-treating.

I was personally excited. For the first Halloween of my life, I needn’t worry about whether I should wear one Under Armor shell or two. I could’ve been whatever I wanted and not had to take into account the number of layers I’d need to stay warm. The rain would eventually stop and there’d be nothing to shovel, no danger of snowplows, and no slipping on ice.

Soaked costumes, in my book, hardly compare to frostbitten fingers and toes.

There’s a lot that I love about the New Orleanian brand of autumn: it’s cold enough for fall fashion but not so much that it’s uncomfortable; the sun shines almost daily.

Of course, Starbucks still serves the salted caramel latte.

I understand that to a lifelong local, the recent weather we’ve been experiencing in NOLA could be considered chilly. I’ve gotten a little too used to the warmth that categorizes this part of the country for my liking. I can’t imagine what I might do if the temperature dropped below 30 degrees, let alone 20.

I know, too, that former northerners who’ve been in the south for extended periods of time genuinely forget what it’s like to be really, really cold. I’m not returning to Pennsylvania until Christmas, and I’m frankly a bit worried how the cold might shock my senses.

Caitlin Vanderwolf is an English writing freshman and may be reached at [email protected] 

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