Thursday, August 10, 2006

Old Man Winter Vacations in NZ

Okay, I know it’s a little cliché and potentially boring to write about the weather, but with US newspapers talking about the heat wave and NZ papers talking about our weather situation here, I figure I’m entitled to at least one blog entry about it. (This of course is ignoring the fact that I complain about the weather in pretty much every email I send home).

The awesome thing about coming to the Southern Hemisphere in February was that I left Michigan’s cold and stepped out into the Australian summer. But now, in August, the weather reversal is not working in my favour. People, it is COLD down here. I know, I know—as a Michigander, I should know how to deal with it by now, especially when I admit that the thermometer here is actually hovering in the low 40s (that’s Fahrenheit) and is therefore nowhere near the bitter temperatures I grew up with. But I would like to point out a few things in defense of my complaining:

1. This is not the same wind we have in Michigan. The weather forecast regularly discusses “southerlies”—winds blowing up from Antarctica. Remember in “March of the Penguins” the scenes where the penguins all have to huddle together to shield themselves from the cold and lots of them die? Those are the same winds that make their way up here. Also, while the rest of the country is shielded by friendly mountain ranges, Wellington’s position on the Cook Strait, right at the bottom of the North Island, means that we get no protection. The weatherpeople are not kidding around when they talk about “gale force” winds.

2. Winter in Michigan is dry and snowy. Winter in Wellington is wet and rainy. Although I’m happy not to save money by not buying a humidifier, I’m not so happy with the constant rain and with being soaked by the time I get home from work. And it’s not like being soaked from playing in the snow, because there’s no warm, dry place to come back to. On the upside for people who live here permanently, this is supposed to be the wettest winter on record, so they don’t usually have to deal with all this. On the downside, it’s causing a lot of problems with flooding and houses sliding down mountains.

3. There are severe differences in the heating systems here i.e. a severe lack of heating systems. My flat (which is highly representative of other homes) has little insulation, thin windows, and no central heating. When it gets down to the 40s in Michigan, everyone has the heat on. Not an option here.

Yes, maybe I should be a little tougher after living in the cold for my entire life. But even though I am used to harsh Michigan winters, I don’t like them. I’m still cold every single February. For that matter, I’m still cold when it’s in the 60s in May, and I still sleep with a blanket in the middle of July. My low core body temperature prefers the low 80s. The reports of America’s current heat wave don’t sound so horrible to me. Although it’s hard to imagine what at 110 heat index feels like when I’m wearing a sweater. I guess you always want what you can't have. But somehow I doubt I'll be jealous of the States when I'm lying on the beach in the middle of January.

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Here is a completely unrepresentative sample of winter days in Wellington:

Taken in mid June:


Taken in late May:


Taken in early June:

1 comment:

Adrian said...

It has been hot in the south, like upper 90s, but I do not htink it has really been that bad. And I wear suits in this weather all day.

When you return, you might as well move the the southern states, since we do not really have a 'winter'. Last winter, it was below 40 probably 10-15 days and I only saw some form of snow twice, but no inches.

Darn cold weather and all that it stands for.