Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 1/11/2010 [Archive]

Martha's Big Adventure - Global Freezing

Martha's Big Adventure -- Global Freezing

By Martha Randolph Carr

Whether or not you believe that human technology and waste had anything to do with it, it's obvious that old ice caps, bergs and floes are rapidly melting. The Big Melt comes with consequences, like anything else in nature, and besides affecting expected sea levels the lack of so much frozen ice appears to also be changing weather patterns all over the world.

I believe, in a completely unscientific observational way that I've discovered the new polar region and its right out my back door in Chicago. Sure, this is my first winter here and I was warned all summer long by long-time residents who had looks of wonder as they described just how cold a Chicago cold felt. Comments on the wind and appropriate footwear were the two big topics.

However, even these sages are now muttering something about how this is unusually cold a little earlier, just like last winter. You see, last winter was apparently brutal but everyone thought it was an aberration and then this summer was unusually mild. I'd describe it as delightful but my sun worshipping card was permanently revoked after the melanoma and so not everyone agreed with me.

Instead of a typical stretch of two months of ninety degree weather there were only two days somewhere in July. The rest of the time it was in the 70's or 80's, which is to my way of thinking, perfection. Now, we've had twice our usual amount of snow so far this winter and my iPhone said the temperature was zero last Sunday afternoon before the wind chill.

This only feeds my theory that we are the new Alaska and Alaska is probably the new Minnesota. It will still get cold in Anchorage but not as cold and not for as long of a stretch. Maybe New York City will turn out to be the new tropical rain forest and everyone will argue over messing with the terrain because of the indigenous flora and fauna that found their way to Central Park.

A couple of generations down the line will recognize that these years were a turning point and will adjust their outerwear accordingly. Hopefully, someone will remember this column and realize I was after all a visionary.

In the meantime, I am already trying to come up with appropriate gear but with really mixed results. While walking downtown near Northwestern Hospital after another doctor's appointment I spotted a pair of fur-lined boots on sale in the 9 West window and quickly purchased them. It felt like a divine intervention until the first snow fall when I learned that just as much attention has to be given to the tread on the bottom of the boot.

I was halfway between the El stop and my home when I started to fall flat, over and over again and without warning while walking across newly fallen snow. The good news is I'm still remarkably flexible and have sturdy bones at the age of 50. The bad news is the boots have turned out to be giant slippers.

I've gone back to my old rubber L.L. Bean shoes and have discovered that after about 15 minutes in zero weather it feels like my feet are in their own freezer sections. According to my friend, Cindy what's needed are wool socks. They're the key to feeling warm all over.

Frankly, I haven't really felt warm, indoors or out for about six weeks now. I've felt varying degrees of cold and then enduring the cold and then painful freezing and I've been on a mission to find out who has the best hot chocolate in my neighborhood. You can only drink so much coffee or tea but chocolate in any form is always a different matter. So far, Julius Meinl tops the list.

Apparently, I have about another six to eight weeks to go before things start to warm up and that's only if my theory is wrong. I'll keep tabs on the place for you and let you know. More adventures to follow.

Martha's latest guide to embrace change, The 3 x 5 Game is now available at Email Martha at:

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