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What I learned up North

Updated on March 29, 2012
Point Au Rouche
Point Au Rouche | Source
Point Au Rouche
Point Au Rouche | Source

As a native southerner, traveling north for the holidays was quite the experience. With Highs in the teens, lows in the, well just low. I got a taste of the North Country in all of its winter glory. Actually, I was told it can get quite colder, but I cannot even bear the thought.

Being from Virginia, I'm not unaccustomed to winter, down here it eases in with a sort of southern hospitality. Up north, October becomes fair game, winter will smack you in the face with single digit temperatures before you can find your coat and hand warmers.

My journey to Plattsburgh, New York; just near the border of Canada, was a great time spent with my wife and her lovely family. This part of the country is beautiful, with postcard worthy scenery of Lake Champlain and the mountains in the distance. There are however, some major differences from my hometown in Virginia. Here are some of my observations.

  • Scarfs are not just for fashion- I did not know this, sure you see the kids in the Norman Rockwell paintings, but I never knew how important a scarf actually is. I bought my first scarf on my second day, after my face was numbed and chapped by the sideways snow and hurricane strength winds.
  • There are rednecks up north - This was a revelation of sorts for me. I always thought rednecks were exclusive to the south. Nope, they are up there too, although most of them talk like Sarah Palin. I even saw a couple of confederate flags, I still haven't figured that one out..
  • I have no idea how you could survive winter - My wife has lived in Virginia for 3 years now. As a teacher, during Halloween she was amazed at the kid's costumes. Little girls dressed as princesses, boys wearing costumes with short sleeves. Halloween costumes up north had to be able to fit over your ski suit.
  • Snow, a way of life - Upon the first snowflake in the south, grocery stores are flooded with shoppers, stocking up on milk and canned goods. Filling up with gas, the hysteria can resemble a full fledged state of emergency. Up north, snow is not even noticed. From October on it is a way of life. Ice fishing anyone?
  • Sweet Tea - While dining out, I usually order sweet tea. Most places would offer unsweetened with sugar packets...not the same. Sweet tea in the south is a sweet, syrupy concoction that will make your mouth pucker. The farther south you go the sweeter the tea gets.
  • Sports - We went out to a pub one night and I asked the bartender if he could turn one of the tv's to the Independence bowl. College football? He asked, looking at me as if I had asked him to put it on Cspan. Asking to watch college football near Canada is like asking to watch hockey in Virginia. You can almost here the record skip in the background upon such a strange request.
  • Did I mention it's cold? - Seriously, I don't know how people live through the winters. My muscles are sore from flinching. When family and friends from up north visit Virginia in the summer, they complain about the heat and the humidity. I can now feel their pain, it's just not right to be that cold!

Upon arriving home to 50 degree temperatures, I stripped off my layers and got back to southern living. There's a world of differences between our towns, 750 miles apart. Climate, culture, and habitat is night and day. While out in public in Virginia, you will hear a lot of Spanish, near the border, it's French. If 10 degrees, we close the schools. A light dusting in the forecast? Ditto.

We can't drive in the snow and we usually don't need to. We talk a little slower, stay a little warmer. A few inches of snow and we hunker down after the mad dash to the grocery store. We may be wimps in the winter, but I've only heard northerners say it's too hot to swim. I think both places have their draws and drawbacks. I look forward to visiting again, I'm thinking in the summer.

Church St, Burlington, Vt.
Church St, Burlington, Vt. | Source
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    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      Yeah, there was no warming while I was up there, that's for sure!!! I hope to visit Montreal my next time up though....thanks for reading

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 5 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Montreal and Plattsburgh have very similar weather; I've lived in Montreal all of my life. Living through the winter here is really not that hard, but of course, this is coming from someone who knows no different.

      As for your hot and humid summers, we seem to also get a good deal of heat and humidity with climate change going on, so I'm getting the best of both worlds, so to speak.

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      Got it Theophanes....beautiful country up there that's for sure ! But October snow is not something I want to experience! Thanks for reading and commenting! Enjoy your summer, hope it falls on a weekend!

    • Theophanes profile image

      Theophanes 5 years ago from New England

      *Ahem* we don't have rednecks, we have hicks and healthy smattering of trailer trash/white trash which I think everyone must have...

      You can keep you icky muggy summers. I'll take the snow any day! I have lived in NH my whole life and even so we were surprised to have 3 feet of snow dumped on us a day before Halloween last year. OK, that was too much. Snow blowers at Halloween is just a cruel joke.

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 6 years ago from Virginia

      Yes rednecks up north were cracking me up! I guess we do export them! Thanks for reading guys.

    • dreamingfitness profile image

      dreamingfitness 6 years ago

      I agree with MarloByDesign. Funny. I also have many scarfs and a new one for Christmas. From the rocky mountains.

    • jimagain profile image

      jimagain 6 years ago from Hattiesburg, Mississippi

      We export rednecks?!! Apparently bad taste knows no bounds. So, would this be considered an invasive species?

    • MarloByDesign profile image

      MarloByDesign 6 years ago from United States

      Voted FUNNY. LOL, yes, us Northerners *really* do wear scarfs! I have about seven of them in my closet.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      As a fellow southerner, I understand your predicament Weestro. The first time I went up north, it was like, "What is this place?" and then after awhile I just figured out whatever they do is opposite from us. But northern rednecks are a revelation. To quote the M&Ms commercial, "They do exist! *faints*" Great Hub and Happy New Year!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 6 years ago from America

      Funny, rednecks up north. You are so right. I really enjoyed your hub.