Tuesday, September 17, 2013


I'm from Minnesota, where the winters are long, cold, and snowy. Did I mention cold? There are already rumblings on the social networks that cold is coming and the feelings are definitely mixed. Those with allergies can't wait for the killing frost, the rest just aren't ready for it. Winterizing is something that happens every year and it happens in nearly every aspect of life. We used to change the tires on our cars to snow tires and change the oil from 10Wsomething to 10Wsomething thinner (I'm no car expert) We use special windshield cleaner fluid and carry an assortment of emergency things "just in case" like blankets and shovels and sand. We take the screens off and put on the storm windows. We insulate things we don't want to freeze, like pipes and plants. We bring out the big box of winter outerwear and make sure the boots don't leak. It'serious business in Minnesota, this winter thing.

In Florence winter isn't the life-threatening season I'm used to. It's a kinder, gentler winter. But as I approach my third winter here I have to be honest; even if it isn't -20F it's still pretty darn cold. Call me soft if you must, but when the temperature plunges down to 40F and it's so damp it rains all the time and the concept of heating has barely left the Middle Ages it's impossible to get warm.

This year we will winterize, as much as is possible. First on my list, mostly because they were on sale,  I can carry it myself and it will make life a thousand times more bearable this winter is a clothes iron.

I sense confused looks out there. I don't blame you. If you're from the States you consider a clothes dryer an essential appliance and can't even imagine life without one. Not so here in Italy. Dryers are inefficient users of energy and energy is expensive here so most homes don't have a dryer. In the summer laundry decorates every balcony and window ledge, in the winter it's a complicated system involving some time outside, then to a rack in front of a radiator (rotating everything so every piece gets some front row time.) It can take up to a week to dry thick items (so all those heavy snuggly hoodies we love in MN don't work here) and even then it still feels damp so the smart casalinga (housewife) uses an iron to finish the drying process. Who cares about wrinkles? What's important is getting the clothes dry before wearing them.

Today I bought my iron and I'm not gonna lie. I'm totally thrilled at the idea of wearing something not only dry but with that just-out-of-the-dryer kind of warmth that makes winter bearable. Bring it on, Jack Frost.

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