When normal is news

Our top story today is that the weather is perfectly normal. This is usually the coldest week of the winter. Our fascination with normalcy reminds me of an editor’s suggested headline when someone urged a news organization cover more good news: “No plane crashes at airport today.”

Over the last few months or so the top weather story was the weather wasn’t normal. Now the chatter is that it is. What can we conclude from this? If you’re in the business of talking about the weather, you’re living the good life.

Here’s a little survey you might recognize:

The last time that survey appeared on these sacred pages, it was hot, humid, and normal. Go ahead and answer and we’ll compare results. No peeking.

  • Allie

    Despite my hands-down preference for the cold, I will say I hate the things my poor, chapped hands do when it’s so darn cold out.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Variety is the spice. I like jumping into a frozen lake after being in a hot sauna.

    And a bad marriage can be pretty steamy. :-)

  • Bob Collins

    It’s funny you mention this, Jim, because driving in today I was daydreaming back to my yute, growing up in a heavily Finnish, fairly rural area in which every farmer had a sauna by the creek/pond. And, yes, they’d “take a sauna” and then jump in the pond, but as I recall, they would also whip each other with pine branches.

    Out here, I’ve never heard of that being the case. Was this a uniquely New England Finnish thing that did not migrate west?

  • Disco

    The weather is never good enough here. People complain in the summer that it’s too hot, then you give them a week of winter and they think it’s too cold. Minnesotans complain about the weather — that is one of the few things they do well.

    I’d rather have it hot. I love summer.

  • Alison

    I have heard of jumping out of the hot tub and rolling in the snow, so I don’t think it’s just a New England thing. New tried either one though.

    I really wish meteorologists and those in the media would quit talking about ‘normal’ weather when referring to historical data. It should be ‘average’. The terms have different meanings. In parts of the year with a lot of natural variation it might be ‘normal’ to not be at the ‘average’.

  • Kassie

    I will always choose hot. I hate this cold. I don’t have air conditioning in my bedroom, so very hot days can be hard, but at least I can go outside and do things. I imagine hell is a very cold and windy place, similar to what I experienced at the airport dog park last night.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Bob – “they’d “take a sauna” and then jump in the pond, but as I recall, they would also whip each other with pine branches.”

    Birch leaves, not pine needles. Yikes. No wonder you never tried it.

    And I learned the practice in Norway, where you whip each other with herring.

  • Jamie

    I vote for cold because when it’s cold, you can always put on more layers and/or stay inside, but when it’s hot, you can’t always take off layers to try to feel cooler. And even if you could, you wouldn’t feel much cooler anyway (I don’t have air conditioning at home).

    But I still dislike snow more and more every year. So I’m thrilled with this winter so far. Even today. I bundled up to go to work, and I’m staying in now on my lunch break, so it’s not so bad.

    P.S. I’ve heard about people doing the (crazy) sauna-freezing water thing here in MN.

  • John P II

    I once spent a winter in the woods with only a lakeside sauna for bathing purposes. We had a hole in the ice but did not whip each other, although I remember a whisk-type bundle of branches hanging on the wall. I think it’s called exfoliating if there are leaves on the branches.

  • Greg W

    // And, yes, they’d “take a sauna” and then jump in the pond, but as I recall, they would also whip each other with pine branches.

    My family grew up in the Menahga (home of the St. Urho statue) area. We used birch branches. Less “sting-y” that way.

    Bob, you are bringing back great memories about saunas. I can’t wait to have my own piece of property on which to build a sauna.

  • boB from WA

    Your normal is our abnormal. Snow and ice, which we are experiencing today, are not a part of the Pacific NW culture. Some of us left the Midwest, ‘cos its easier to shovel rain than snow.

  • Mark S

    Originally I am from the Wasatch Front area of Utah (near SLC). I went to college in Longview, Texas and spent a summer there working for the school.

    Having experienced the hot, muggy, sauna weather of an east Texas summer, I will take a Minnesota winter any day. When it gets that hot it is not fun to go outside, it is not fun to stay inside, and there is no escape except for standing in front of a fan or taking a cold shower.

    Maybe it’s just me, but there is something about the crisp winter air and the smell of a wood burning stove that I find quite appealing. If I had to make one change, it would be to get rid of the wind we have here in Rochester, it definitely makes the winters much more difficult to endure.

  • John D

    With the cold, there is no such thing as bad weather, only incorrect clothing. My son did school patrol this morning and we made sure he was dressed appropriately for the weather.

    Can’t say the same about hot, humid weather. Eventually, you are standing outside wearing so little clothing, it is inappropriate from a modesty standpoint, and you’re still miserably hot.

    My Finnish in-laws in Ely took sauna using birch branches when their new sauna opened, but quickly discovered the mess it made was not worth the circulatory benefits.

  • kay smith

    My grandparents lived on Lake Vermillion in the ’50′s. Next door neighbors were Finnish, had a sauna and would jump in the lake after sauna-ing. No word on any kind of branches.

  • Jamie

    Hey, Bob, weren’t you going to show us the version of this poll from the summer? I’d like to see that.

  • voodoo is for weirdos

    “Variety is the spice. I like jumping into a frozen lake after being in a hot sauna.

    And a bad marriage can be pretty steamy. :-)

    Posted by Jim Shapiro | January 19, 2012 11:33 AM ”

    Now that was witty : )

    Many years ago we visited an uncle of a boyfriend at the time. He lived in the northern woods in cabin he built himself. He tapped off the local phone and electrical and used a sauna (he built) for bathing. He survived on marrying people and crafting traditional finnish guitars-can’t think of the name.

    “Your normal is our abnormal. Snow and ice, which we are experiencing today, are not a part of the Pacific NW culture. Some of us left the Midwest, ‘cos its easier to shovel rain than snow.

    Posted by boB from WA | January 19, 2012 1:32 PM”

    That may be try but only to the degree of when TV and cameras embellish on the snow.