I post this in honor of the disappearing drudgery that is the Philadelphia winter. I jokingly wrote it about a year and a half ago for a couple of co-workers who had recently moved to Philly from the South. Yippee for spring!
An Insider’s Guide to Winter in Philly
Who: Preethi Bettadapur
What: Newly-minted college freshman.
Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
When: Winter of 2002
Why: I enjoy masochism.
Having lived much of my life in the Deep South, I was terrified of moving to Utah before my junior year in high school. This was largely because my teenage self dreaded the thought of leaving my friends, house, and, importantly, my quick-witted boyfriend. Throw into the mix the fact that I knew virtually nothing about the Beehive state other than that a large, salty body of water was contained therein, a lot of “Mormons” lived there, and it, ya’ know, occasionally got a little bit snow (read: enough for the Winter Olympics), and you have a recipe for adolescent angst.
Despite my desperate dread of the cold, however, I found that it was surprisingly quite lovely. Utah cold is interesting in that it is brisk but not bitter, snowy but not unbearable. Rather, it was beautiful.
As a now-seasoned cold-weather aficionado, I had no fear of the impending Philadelphia winter; at least, until it hit. To my displeasure, Philly winters are far from pretty. Instead, they are blustery, damp, and dreary – that is, nothing like western cold. I quickly discovered that walking around campus in this weather necessitated a far different cold-weather regimen from that to which I was accustomed. So, having now completed my fourth year in the city, and having decided to remain here to work, I’ve decided to pass on the knowledge I’ve accumulated in hopes that it will bring others figurative and literal warmth. Or at the very least, hope in the fact that someone else has pulled through.
- Invest in a good coat. For the first three years I lived in Philly, I had a black hip-length pea coat – you know, the kind that every other college girl in the country owns. Except in mine, the lining that wasn’t stellar from the beginning and by my junior year had long since worn out. For some reason, it never occurred to me that perhaps the reason I was always freezing had something to do with this coat, and not that I wasn’t eating enough spinach. Finally, in the fall of my senior year, I bought a new coat. I learned from this experience that there are two criteria for buying a winter coat:
- Buy a coat that you like.
- Buy a coat that is warm.
These are, in fact, in order of importance. Because if you’re anything like me, you’ll get excited to put on your new, cute, and perfectly tailored pink knee-length wool coat, thereby making you (if only marginally) excited to run out and bear the frigidity that is Philadelphia. That will generate far more heat than any amount of down filling.
Next to that, though, having a sufficiently lined coat is important – it’s amazing what a difference good fabric can actually make. So pony up the dough and consider your new coat an investment, much like my $160,000 education that brought me to the city in the first place.
- Learn the art of layering. Annoying as tights and undershirts may seem at first fitting, they will rapidly become your new best friends. Tank tops, short-sleeved shirts, long-sleeved shirts, thin sweaters, thick sweaters, toe socks, regular socks, gloves, scarves…DO NOT alienate any of these valuable allies in a cold, cold war. Do not say mean things to them or about them, and definitely do not disparage them behind their backs. You may not as yet fully appreciate this, but YOU NEED THEM.
- Consider a music-playing device. Again, consider this an investment. I am without a doubt convinced that my last winter was made immeasurably better by the fact that I acquired an iPod. Time passed unexpectedly quickly as I trudged through campus humming along to my favorite tunes. Obnoxiousness is a small price to pay for superior mental health.
- Stock up on warm drinks. Hot chocolate, tea (herbal, of course), Postum, hot water with honey and/or lemon – take your pick. If, for some odd reason, you like none of these, learn to.
- Buy a down comforter. My new best friend. There is nothing else to say.
- Acquire extra sets of cozy pajamas. Preferably, charmingly adorned with hearts, kittens, or both.
- Obtain copies of your favorite movies, books, and board games. This is particularly important if there is not a video store/library within oh, say, 3.7 feet of your building. You must also have a device on which to watch said movies (e.g. DVD or VCR player, computer, etc.). This way, others will have to come to you, Person Who Owns Indoor Entertainment.
- Wear good shoes. Do not be one of those crazies that wears flip-flops in the snow. Beloved Sister, that means you.
- Make a winter playlist. I, personally, love Christmas music (but only between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, thankyouverymuch). This is not exclusive to Jesus-believers, however. There is a lot of “warm” music for cold days (try Frank, Nat, Ella…).
- Look forward to the good things. No one likes a complainer. Try to look on the bright side and truly find ways to enjoy yourself during the winter. Philly has an abundance of beautiful light displays (try Longwood Gardens), music (seeing or participating in a performance of The Messiah is a must), and other wintry wonders. Also, look into normal fun winter things: ice skating, changing leaves, snow, snowman and snow angel making, pumpkin carving, snuggling...