In her dreams, she longs to live where it's always cold enough to put on a stylish sweater

October 30, 2005|By SUSAN REIMER

At a time in life when many of my contemporaries are thinking about moving south to escape the winter, I am thinking of moving north to escape the winter.

Not just any winter, but the winter experienced in the Middle Atlantic states. It is usually referred to as a "mild" winter, but I think of it more as a wimp winter. A half-baked winter. A rainy, gray, make-up-your-mind winter.

Here in the Mid-Atlantic, we brace for the occasional big snowstorm, closing schools and canceling events and driving badly in anticipation of the storm. But most of the time, the storm never shows, and we are stuck with all this extra toilet paper and bread.

I want to move north, to Maine or Wisconsin, where winter is winter and there is no equivocation. I mean, I went from November to March last year wearing a jean jacket, for goodness' sake.

And clothes are the reason I want to move.

I don't want to live in a region where you can never really tell when to abandon your transition clothing for your winter clothing. I want there to be no mistaking the fact that it is dead, cold, winter.

And you get to wear really cool stuff.

If you can't already tell, the L.L. Bean and the Lands' End and the Woolrich catalogs have begun arriving in my mailbox, and it is clear to me that people who live where winter means business have a much wider range of clothing options that those of us who live where you might find yourself still mowing the grass at Christmas.

I want to live where you need those kinds of clothes.

I want to live where you can ice skate on the pond in your back yard. Where you can cross-country ski out your back door. Where you can sit by the fire draped in a fleece throw. Where even the dog needs to buy a coat.

I want to live where you can wear silk long underwear - can you imagine what that feels like against your skin? And where you have to strap crampons onto your shoes to get the mail and wrap a scarf across your nose to get wood for the fire.

I want a down jacket and a fleece jacket and a squall jacket, and an assortment of soft, Merino wool hats that match.

I want to live where the house smells like fresh Balsam and everybody drinks hot cocoa and plays board games by the fire.

I want to put my fancy shoes in storage and wear Wellies and duck shoes and lace-up waterproof boots that defy slush. And I want boot socks.

I want Fair Isle sweaters, and Alpine sweaters and cashmere sweaters and cable knit sweaters and cardigan sweaters and turtleneck sweaters, and a collection of corduroys to match.

I want to wear flannel nightgowns in Tartan plaids and slippers lined with shearling and sleep under a down comforter as thick as the blanket of snow outside my kitchen window.

If you tried anything like this during a mild Mid-Atlantic winter, you'd burst into flames unless you turned on the air conditioning.

My husband has been to Russia in the winter and he says even the folks who live in the northern-most tip of Minnesota are just playing at winter by comparison. He said I wouldn't last 10 minutes anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

"Even upstate New York would defeat you," he said, and he knows me pretty well.

So I guess I will have to continue to daydream my winter wonderland.

If it ever arrives, it will arrive in my mailbox. In a catalog.

susan.reimer@baltsun.com

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