Wisconsin December 08, 2018
The 13 True Phases Of Surviving A Wisconsin Winter
I don’t know why we Wisconsinites have such a short memory about winter. It takes up most of our year, but it’s like a traumatic experience that we repress once it passes every season and we bury it under our memories of summer festivals, time on the lake, and the hot sun, which may or may not fry a few of our brain cells. We have selective memory that makes us reluctant to face the realities of six months of snow, ice and temperatures so cold the news tells you not to leave the house with exposed skin.
Winter in Wisconsin sort of creeps up on us and then happens all at once, and anyone who’s spent some time on I-94 knows that despite years of practice, it seems like everyone here forgets how to handle their vehicle in the snow. Winter in Wisconsin is an exercise in survival that comes with steps, kind of like grief. The similarities should probably leave us a little worried, honestly.
1. First come the predictions
Despite the fact that we've been known to have all four seasons in one day here and predicting Wisconsin weather is a bit like finding a unicorn - nigh on impossible - we still buy in.
2. Then comes the excitement.
I've lived here more than 30 years and yet there's always those delusional days where it's warm and you think about how pretty snow is and you live for a few minutes thinking how nice winter can be.
3. Reality strikes.
Maybe its the first time the temperature drops more than twenty degrees from one day to the next or you wake up to flurries on the lawn. Occasional warm days had you in denial that it was truly fall and then like two days later, Wisconsin weather reminds you that fall is just early winter and the inevitable is not just coming, it's imminent.
4. Next comes dread.
Sure, you deluded yourself while stocking up on sweaters and boots, but packing away your sandals reminds you that pretty snow turns into brown, slushy, dirty snow very quickly and that's why you need leak-proof boots.
5. Meterologists call for the first snow.
Again, you're still blissful and hopeful. Maybe you could work from home. Maybe the kids will have off school. You're only thinking positive things about snow at this point.
6. Everybody panic!
Even though we've all gone through this before, suddenly it's like no one has ever experienced snow in Wisconsin. It's just a dusting, but store shelves empty, gas station lines are four cars deep and not only person on the roads seems to have any idea how to handle a car. The snow's not even sticking, but your commute is three times as long.
It was just a dusting. It's gone before suppertime. Winter's not fully here yet and we're going to be ok.
8. More snow. But just a dusting.
Then you're reminded it's just November and we've got at least five months of it. They call for another dusting but you had your practice run and everything is a-ok.
9. Except they lied.
They called for a dusting and the snow is covering the bottom of your door before you go to bed. By the time you wake up, there's two feet. You remember why you never trust a Wisconsin meteorologist.
10. Resentment, bitterness and a whole lot of second-guessing your life choices.
This is Wisconsin, so two feet of snow shouldn't surprise anyone. You're expected at work and the kids are expected at school. Someone is on their belly digging the car out at the end of the driveway because you thought you could muscle through the pile the plow left behind. You were wrong and your back tires aren't even touching the ground and you start to wonder why in the heck you live here again.
11. Preparing for the end times.
Once we come to full recognition of winter, we go into survival mode. We could all dress a family of four with the cold weather clothes we keep in our car alongside shovels, jumper cables, snacks, blankets and more. We are prepared to be stuck on the freeway for hours, slide in a ditch or even just have a dead battery and we will not get hypothermia. No one left behind!
12. Grudging acceptance.
If anyone has learned how to make the most out of the snow and cold, it's Wisconsinites. We're built for this. There's so much to do and enjoy in the winter that's it's a bit difficult to be truly grumpy. Sure, being stuck in your house because someone plowed your alley but left a ten foot pile right behind your driveway isn't ideal, but the fun to be had outweighs the bad.
13. The slow realization that there's nothing like the beauty of a Wisconsin winter.
Ok, you'll definitely deny it in February when it feels like you'll never thaw out and you'll pretend you don't even know what people are talking about in July, but even the grumpiest folks can admit that even with all the headaches, winter in Wisconsin is not so bad. You can hike, fat tire bike, ski, snowshoe, cross-country ski, sled, make snowmen, ice skate, play hockey, built forts and generally have a heck of a time in some of the most gorgeous beauty Mother Nature has ever created. When you look at it like that, it's hard to remember why you hated winter so much in the first place.
What do you think? Did we miss any of the stages of winter in Wisconsin? Let us know about it in the comments!
Are you still dreading the long haul of winter?
Check out these survival tips. Want to feel a bit better about your ability to survive the cold? Check out these tips for those down south when dealing with “winter.”