Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Why I Live in Florida – A Continuing Series

It’s too damn cold up north.

The temperature in International Falls fell to 40 below zero Monday, just a few days after the northern Minnesota town won a federal trademark making it officially the ”Icebox of the Nation.”

It was so cold that resident Nick McDougall couldn’t get his car trunk to close after he got out his charger to kick-start his dead battery. By late morning, the temperature had risen all the way to 18 – below zero.

”This is about as cold as it gets, this is bad. There’s no wind – it’s just cold,” said McDougall, 48, a worker at The Fisherman, a convenience store and gas station in the town on the Canadian border. ”People just don’t go out, unless you have to go to work.”

Residents of the area use electric engine block heaters to keep their cars from freezing.

”You plug in your car, for sure, and you put the car in the garage if you can,” McDougall said. His garage is full of other things, so he had to park outside – a ”big mistake.”

I’ve lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Petoskey, Michigan, and I remember those cold mornings in February. I also remember the genius who tried to warm up his car by building a campfire under his oil pan and got himself a brand new 1995 Buick Flambé for the trouble. Or the guy who used an arc welder to thaw a frozen pipe in his kitchen. The current ran along the plumbing to his neighbor’s house where it jumped to the gas-fired hot water heater and blew it up.

We may have hurricanes and humidity in the summer, but right now it’s 74 F while it’s -2 F in Petoskey and -13 C in Toronto. If that’s to your liking, well, enjoy it. As for me, been there, done that, got the t-shirt and went through the rehab.