I saw women clutching their babies to their breasts as they tried to shield them from the deadly blast of arctic air. I saw strong men dressed in multiple layers, hats pulled down over their ears wincing and bowing their heads in the face of the gale. Elderly Italians shuffled with grim determination through what might prove to be their last winter storm.
Yes, a dangerous blast of cold air struck Tuscany today. It was 65 F. 18 C. A little breezy.
Seriously. People. Come on. Cowboy up a little, huh?
We come out of the Carrefour loaded down with groceries and it’s about 6:00 pm, give or take. Getting dark. A little breeze kicking up. Nice. Pleasant. I was wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt. The wife likewise. The boy’s in shorts and a tee. The girl’s in a skirt and a tee. None of us wearing a jacket or sweater.
We looked like crazy people. We looked like we were endangering the children. People stared at us in horror. They made the sign of the cross. Had we not hurried along I’m convinced someone would have called the Italian version of child protective services. (The Carabambini? The Miseragazzi?) Because everyone — everyone, all, 100%, the totality of visible humanity — was dressed in layers, many with hats, some with fur collars clutched to their throats. Fur!
They cringed! They cringed and grimaced in the face of what was maybe a 10 mph breeze and mid-60’s F temperatures.
We looked like Vikings. Crazy-ass, American Vikings indifferent to cold and quite possibly drunk. Even the kids.
Three winters in Portland, Maine. Five winters in Chicago. And three winters in Minneapolis.
I remember once in Minneapolis trying to get a jump start for the car. It was minus 30 F. That’s -34 C. I’m not talking wind chill, I’m talking absolute temperature. Now that was cold. In Minneapolis anything above freezing is kinda nice, and it isn’t considered cold until you hit the point where losing a button on your coat can threaten your survival. In Minneapolis summer begins promptly on July 1st and ends the next day. That’s cold.
Now Italians up north, up in the Alps, they must be a bit hardier. But Tuscans? Hah! They couldn’t survive a stroll through a Houston shopping mall, let alone Minneapolis in January.
Ah hah hah ha! Gaze upon the thin cotton fabric of my Eddie Bauer t-shirt and despair!