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How high is that roof?  Relative to what?

How high is that roof? Relative to what?

Sit down.  Are you ready for this?  I am about to explain the theory of relativity to you. 

If you believed that one, you’re at the wrong blog!  What I’d like to discuss today in the theory of weather relativity.  Temperature relativity, to be precise.

As I was wandering around outside this morning, with the temperature warmed up to a toasty 20 degrees (soared upwards from a frigid seven below zero) I marveled at the warmth.  Tropical.  Comfortable.  Almost time to shed the heavy warm winter coats for lighter fleece jackets.  Forget snow pants!  Forget toasty-warm mittens and neck warmer!  It’s balmy.

Now take a fellow from Georgia who comes to visit Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  He lands in this balmy 20 degree day and do you think “balmy” is the word he’ll use to describe it?  (He actually might when he arrives on the plane tonight as there’s been SNOW in Georgia this week, but we’re discussing ordinary March Georgia weather behavior….)

A person arriving to our snow-covered land from 50-70 degree temperatures is NOT thinking 20 degrees is toasty.  His body may be shivering.  He may be bundling up in the warmest possible attire.  He may be thinking he’s reached the North Pole.

How could two perceptions be so different?  Same temperature.  One thinks it’s warm; the other knows it’s cold.  Therein lies the theory of temperature relativity:  the body adjusts to whatever temperature occurs in the particular climate where it lives. 

People in Alaska probably think seven below is tropical after a cold stretch at 40 below.  They’re probably wearing shorts to the post office at zero.  (I still wish I had that photo of the guy wearing shorts to the post office back in December…)

Do we believe this huge mitten in downtown Hancock?

Do we believe this huge mitten in downtown Hancock?

I’m suddenly thinking of trips down to Florida.  Especially my first trip in second or third grade.  We flew into Miami in the middle of the night.  Unsuspecting, we stepped off the plane, walked through the terminal and opened the door.  Sultry hot temperature immediately infused throughout our entire beings.  Our bodies gasped with the shock of it.  Then, melted completely.  It was as if we stepped from a freezer into a furnace.  Yet the furnace didn’t burn…it suffused with delightful warmth and pleasure.

I still feel that during middle-of-the-winter trips to Florida.  Not with such intensity.  But it’s still present.  It feels like we northerners burrow deep within during winter months.  We’re not even fully aware of what deep internal insulation we carry.  We’re not fully aware of  our body’s work to protect itself from ice and snow and cold.  Until, suddenly, we’re standing in 70 or 80 degrees and wearing shorts and sleeveless t-shirts and feeling like we’re shedding layers and layers and layers.  We remember Summer as a body-sensation.

Hmmmm, do I sound like I’m dreaming of summer?  Just when I’m trying to explain to you how tropical twenty degrees felt this morning?  It’s all relative, dear reader, it’s all relative…

P.S.  just picked up that relative from Georgia at the airport in Marquette.  Barry’s brother-in-law is here for five days of ice fishing.  Hope he enjoys the “balmy” weather…


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