Life Below Zero on Almost an Island

Greetings from the frozen Northwoods, where we are on day four of double digit negatives, 30 degrees below zero this morning.  The only difference is that for once, the entire Midwest is experiencing the deep freeze right along with us.  Schools have been closed for most of the week, and my Facebook is flooded with survival tips both funny and serious – from how Wisconsinites handle the weather to reminders to bring pets inside, and keep livestock fed and watered.  Eating snow is not a substitute for providing animals with water.  In this cold snow has very little actual moisture, and consuming it further lowers the body temperature.  Spend more than 30 seconds in these conditions, and the potential for danger in such extreme cold will seep in to your senses…like in an ‘up the back of your neck and straight down your spine’ kind of way.

Fortunately, as humans we have advanced ways of staying warm.  My friend Amy is a school teacher and posted the question “What Day is It?” with a series of photographs depicting mounds of blankets in her family room, under which various assortments of teenagers and pets slept on couches – as well as close up shots of her slippers, coffee mugs and wine glasses in various state of consumption.  Someone asked if the wine was being drunk in the morning, to which the obvious answer is what does it matter when you’re stuck inside for the next 48-72 hours?

Warm? Yes. Stylish? Not necessarily.

Of course, many of us continue on with our daily lives as planned, either because we have no other choice or because we are stubborn mid-westerners who pride ourselves on toughing out the cold.  I was scheduled for office floor time yesterday and a yoga class after that, so I pulled on my ugly Baffin snowmobile boots (warmest boots ever) packed some busy work and a blanket, and off I went proclaiming I would not be deterred by a little weather.  Of course town was deserted and I think the phone rang four times, basically I froze my ass off and probably spent $400 in electric heating the place but dammit, the open sign was on.

But when I got a text from the yoga instructor saying I was only one of two signed up for class, I thought about that dark 20-minute drive to Mercer down two rural backroads where I often don’t see another vehicle and cell service is sketchy.  Were I to hit a deer or catch an icy corner, let’s just say my lululemons (def: yoga pants) would not suffice as adequate protection from the elements.  I told her she should cancel, and she thanked me for permission to do so…from one stubborn little midwestern yogi to another.

Snap Crackle Pop

Sometimes we need that permission to stay home, or in the case of teenagers, outright forbidding them to go into that cold, dark night.  Life is better spent under a mound of blankets with your pets anyway.  Did you know the term Three Dog Night refers to a night so cold, that you need to sleep with a dog to your left, a dog to your right, and one by your feet to keep warm?  It works with cats too.  And should cabin fever set in, one can always be entertained by boiling water and throwing it off the deck for instant snow, or betting someone $20 to run outside and make a snow angel in their gym shorts, which my son Aidan actually took me up on.

Brrrr!

I can tell the natives are getting restless, however, especially my 17-year old daughter who proclaimed this morning she is LITERALLY BEING HELD PRISONER by us not allowing her to flit all over the frozen tundra in torn jeans and converse sneakers.  I told her comparing herself to a prisoner was a little harsh, considering she had a freshly made smoothie in her hand and was on her way out to soak in a hot tub at 104 degrees overlooking a beautiful (albeit frozen) lake.  She amended it to ‘like, one of those really nice prisons in Norway, where you could pretty much walk off on your own, if there were actually anywhere to go, which there’s not.’

Inmate #467823 is now downstairs running on the treadmill in the basement, and if you could hear the music coming up from the heating vents you might actually believe that you are, in fact, in a prison gym.  Thankfully the polar vortex won’t hang around forever and the convicts can return to school tomorrow!  We’re for sure going to be above 0 tomorrow and in the 30’s by the weekend – a seventy degree ‘feels like’ difference within 48 hours.  You don’t like the weather in Wisconsin?  Hang on a sec.

The only thing heating up faster is the real estate market, yes, even in this weather!  Thank you to the brave agent who showed one of my listings in subzero weather yesterday, she sent an offer over this morning with a note attached that it would have come sooner but her fingers were frozen.  I have been so encouraged by the level of activity that my previous worries about who is going to buy something have turned to worries about whether I will find them something to buy.  So I’ll use this as a shameless pitch (you knew it was coming sometime) to say if you have a place in the northwoods and have been thinking of selling, the market is heating up NOW and any of our agents at Headwaters would be happy to talk with you and provide a no-cost, no-obligation market analysis on your property.  And if you’re thinking of buying, there are still some sweet spots but I suspect they will be gone before the snow is.  Put on your ugliest, warmest snow boots and give us a call.

With that said, we’re sending warm thoughts your way from the frozen (but sunny) tundra!  Even when the temperatures are negative, life is still good on Almost an Island.

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