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When I moved to Montana in 2003, a lot of well-meaning cold natives gave me "advice" that was pretty obvious, and missed out on giving me advice that would actually have prevented me from making a number of disastrous mistakes. So here are about a dozen /actual/ secrets that no one tells you, mostly because they have no idea that people raised in warm places don't know about them.

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Good morning, John.

As you know, I spent the first twenty-two years of my life living in Florida, where there are 43 million bugs per square centimeter and the winter is the best time of the year because you can move around without getting sweaty.

And then, in 2003, I moved to Missoula, Montana, which was a shift. Usually hovers around the twenties and thirties in the winter, sometimes it gets down to like a negative twenty. That's about as cold as it gets.

And there are lots of people who told me the secrets to living in a cold place, and their secrets! Weren't secret!

Everybody told me, "It's layers, the secret is layers!" Like, oh, I never would have guessed that wearing more clothes would help. But nobody said the secret is "Don't touch metal with your bare hands" because they were like "Why would anyone do that?"

I'm from Florida. Pretend I'm a baby!

So from a person who has made a successful transition from living in a warm climate to loving cold weather, here are the actual secrets.

Thirty degrees is not cold. (I'm talkin' Fahrenheit here.) Thirty degrees is at most chilly? The difference between sixty and thirty - I knew that that was a big difference. What I did not understand is the difference between thirty and zero is the same size! I just thought it was all - It got cold, and then it was cold forever!

No, uh, the difference between twenty and negative twenty is very big, like life-threateningly big.

Cold begins when it is physically painful to have exposed skin. Very cold begins around zero degrees Fahrenheit. And then below "very cold" we have what is called "too cold," which is a temperature that you should not go out in unless you have become an expert in existing at that temperature.

Number two! Walking on ice is something that you just get better at as you try to do it more, but it is very dangerous?

These are called traction cleats. They're sometimes also called crampons even though crampons are technically a separate thing which are used for climbing on ice and, I assume, also murder. They're not cheap, but they're cheaper than a broken arm.

If you know it's gonna snow, pull your wipers up! So that they don't freeze! To the windshield! And then break when you try to chip 'em off!

Gloves are not for making your hands warm once they are cold. (This was very confusing to me.) Gloves keep your hands warm. Put them on before your hands get cold. Also, this is a fun tip, if you put your glove on before you put your jacket on, it makes a seal between the glove and the jacket. It's all about having good seals.

[That's why] I never understood scarves! I didn't know what scarves were for! This is a scarf. This is the easiest way to put on a scarf, there's like a thousand million others - But scarves are there to create the seal between your jacket and your neck. Also you can sometimes pull them up and do one of these.

Don't lick your lips a bunch? That's a disaster.

My big cold jacket? 100% of the time, there's a Chap in the pocket.

December is the be-gin-ning of win-ter. If you're in the late January, where we are right now, and you think that winter is almost over, you are going to be very upset when April rolls around?

Sunlight is important. If it's sunny out, and there's no wind, it could be, like, T-shirt weather in the thirties. Also, seeing the sun and feeling it on your skin makes you much less miserable.

Wind is much more important than the sun, if it's - If it's in the teens and windy... just give up.

I'm not gonna talk a bunch about driving, except to say: It's different. Go slow. And also, you need one of these. They're extremely inexpensive and you should probably buy two, because if it breaks, then suddenly you have a $15000 piece of equipment that you cannot operate because of the lack of a $4 piece of equipment. Also, don't buy those super short ones, I don't even know why they sell those.

I almost forgot an important one. Do not turn your heater off if you go on vacation, your pipes will explode and your house will be destroyed. Likewise, don't accidentally leave a gallon of milk in the back of the car.

... Yep.

And finally, try to enjoy it! It's very pretty... It's a little refreshing, and it feels very clean. The sun sometimes comes out and that's nice. Even if it's just a walk in the park... appreciate it, if only like a teeny teeny bit, because otherwise you will resent it... a lot.

John, I'll see you on Tuesday.