This is my third winter in Sweden. The previous two winters I thought I would freeze to death. My first experience with minus degree Fahrenheit temperatures taught me that cold in Texas is not really cold. It is more like chilly. Cold is -15 C (5 F). COLD is -20 C (-4 F!!!). And let me tell you, THAT IS COLD. There is no kidding about that.
Before we moved to Sweden I was determined to purchase my survival gear in the U.S. to save money, since everything is much more expensive in Sweden. Top on my list was a warm winter coat. I found two down coats that I liked at Eddie Bauer. One was called the Arctic Duffle, which was basically a calf-length, sleeping bag with arms and a hood, and the other one was red, hit about mid-thigh and was much cuter. It had a hood with a fur rim and was belted to make you look feminine-like, instead of Michelin man-like. So which one did I buy? Of course, I went for the Michelin man look. I mean, I did not want to be cold. Who cares if no one can tell that I am a girl, or if I look ridiculous next to all of the Swedish women dressed in their cute skinny jeans and snow boots with hip-length, ski styled jackets and NO winter hats or hoods on their heads? I was warm and that is what mattered. My own husband even made fun of me, asking, “Are you going to put your sleeping bag on before we leave?”
So, one day it was really cold. It was probably -20 C (-4 F). Carl (my husband) and I decided that we would not be beaten by the cold, winter day. We headed out for a nice, brisk walk. I had on a long-sleeved, wool undershirt, a wool sweater, wool knee socks, jeans, knee-high boots, wool gloves and scarf, a wool snow hat AND my sleeping bag, hood and all. I wouldn’t say I was exactly warm but I was not miserably cold. I was not going to let a mere -20 C temperature stop me. Carl on the other hand was willing to let the cold stop him. He looked at me and said, “I will never laugh at you and your sleeping bag again” and we headed back home to warm up with some hot chocolate.
They say it is now winter. It is the 5th of January and temperatures have stayed above freezing with only an occasional dip into the cold abyss. It has snowed a couple of times but the temperatures have not been cold enough to maintain it. I walk around most days with no snow hat or gloves and we’ve even been out on our bikes a few times, which would have been unthinkable last year at this time, at least for me. Maybe colder temperatures are on the way but this current state of winter makes me feel strong and powerful. Like I have conquered the Swedish cold! And best of all, the sleeping bag is currently retired.
So where’s the snow? Bring it on Jack Frost! I am ready!