Perspective on the Polar Vortex

polar1By Aubrey Murtha —   “Okay, why do we live here?”

Here on the MU campus, visiting Californians and home-grown Midwesterners alike find themselves muttering this rhetorical question as they trudge through dirty city slush.

That polar vertex that seems to situate itself perfectly between the dorms and the academic buildings on either side of Wisconsin Ave. results in a bitter cold commute to and from class; if you’re like me, you practically sprint to class to avoid the wind—eyes streaming, nose stinging, and cheeks freezing along the way.

So why do we live here?  My college age contemporaries south of the Mason-Dixon might argue that they’ve got it good when they are dealing with sunny and 75° in mid-February.  But no!  Who needs to feel the warmth of the noonday sun when we’ve got -10° on a daily basis!  I’ve been thinking long and hard about the benefits of going to school in an arctic climate for nine months of the year, and contrarily to what you might think, the ideas quickly fell upon me like sparkly white snowflakes on the freezing pavement (pardon the simile).

Wisconsin is a truly wonderful place to live.

  1. “Rub some dirt on it,” we say when people whine about the weather.  Wisconsinites are a resilient breed.  Is 30° cold to you?  Oh, try coming to Milwaukee where our wind chill is a whopping -1000°. *
  2. We’ve got the Green Bay Packers.  That alone should be reason enough to move to Wisconsin on the coldest of days with a big ol’ smile on your face.
  3. I won’t even get in to the bubbler vs. water fountain debate, but I will point out that we have a relatively unique name for that device that is used in public places to satiate the thirst of the general populace.
  4. Northerners are often not overly concerned with appearance.  We are the masters of long underwear, flannels, wool sweaters and those over-stuffed winter coats that more closely resemble space suits.  How can you be worried about how you look when these are your wardrobe options?
  5. We are immune to cabin fever.  In fact, I’ve seriously considered hibernation a few times in my life.   Like, I am that good at solely eating and sleeping inside, preferably in my bed, for extended periods of time.
  6. We learn to appreciate the simple pleasures.  Once it hits 35° we’ve got our shorts on and the sunblock out because it’s time to catch up on nine months of vitamin D deficiency.
  7. Summer is a real treat.  We REALLY know how to utilize those three months and get the absolute most out of them.  Northerners are avid lake goers, wilderness campers, party throwers, concert attendees, festival fanatics, and ball park regulars during those three months of glorious bliss.

So there it is.  There is your answer.

*Temperatures not based on actual fact

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