On one of the online communities I frequent, an Arizona lady said she was coming to glassland for a week and asked about appropriate clothing. What followed defined a rarely mentioned northwestern US trait: Chronic inability to feel cold.
After a chorus of non-natives explained that she’d need coats, sweaters, thermal underwear, etc…an Oregonian spoke up indignantly. It is NOT cold, she spluttered. She’d gone into the very room where this lady would be taking a class and it was a GOOD 65 DEGREES. How in the world could ANYBODY imagine that was cold?
I thought about mentioning that 69 degrees is generally the lowest acceptable thermostat setting in US households (according to an Emerson survey the average US setting is around 73 degrees). I refrained, because there’s no sense in fighting a fundamental difference in physiologies.
My brother-in-law and niece, both Washington state natives, are classic examples of the northwest metabolism, which I’m convinced runs about 10 degrees hotter than a typical human. Jerald, for example, is congenitally incapable of wearing warm clothes. If you see him in a jacket, hell will have frozen over. For years I dutifully gave Jerald “northwest attire” for Christmas, i.e., Pendleton wool shirts, warm jackets and pullovers, until my sister tactfully mentioned that all of it was still in the closet with the tags on.
My 4-year old niece can’t quite give up her flipflops…in January. My mother shivers to see Lily’s bare feet and barer arms, but when Lily says she’s not cold she really means it.
Maybe northwest natives have evolved to feel comfortable in a chilly drizzle. Perhaps our bodies grow tired of shivering and learn to regard chillblains as heat rash. Me, I follow the five golden rules of northwest living:
1) The weatherman is always wrong.
2) Only tourists carry umbrellas. If your hair’s dry, you must be from outta town.
3) Moss will grow on anything that holds still long enough. Keep moving.
4) If it’s fuzzy, has a hood and looks like a lumberjack wouldn’t be caught dead in it, put it on.
5) There’s a reason they sell hot coffee on every street corner.
And don’t worry. After you’ve been here five years you, too, will almost be warm.