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About That Cold Snap... It Broke Me

Ben Kieffer
Me outside the IPR offices on Monday, Nov. 11

Dear Experienced Iowans,

What in the hell is going on here?

The high temp today is 50 degrees warmer than it was a week ago – this is the type of behavior I’d expect from the Lone Star state, not here. 

Last Tuesday there were new records for low temps set across the state, so I understand that the blast of cold we felt was an anomaly for November. But ya’ll, it broke me. 

I took your advice to prepare for my bike ride into work last week. I dressed in layers. I had wool socks, a sweater, a vest and a windproof jacket. I thought I was ready. The balaclava Ben gave me worked out well, but the exposed skin around my eyes took a hit. It dried out my contacts; I felt like my eyelashes were on the verge of crystalizing and breaking off. 

I had no problem dodging patches of ice through rather slushy roads. I hunched over my handlebars with toes and fingers curled with determination. I learned, and I learned quickly, that mittens are warmer than gloves.

Last week was by far the coldest air I have been exposed to in my life. It was a distraction.

As I rode up Iowa Avenue in Iowa City, a hill in disguise, I could feel the cold in my lungs. It sort of hurt. As I was pedaling, I couldn’t help but wonder, ‘is this normal?’ Is breathing in air this cold bad for my health?

My cry for help last week was sent in the nick of time, and since then I’ve received emails, comments and tweets with some of the best advice and some of the most hilarious snark. (Watch for a follow up letter with some favorite comments in the weeks to come. For those of you who suggested I should move south, I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around what it’s like to move in this kind of cold. I’m staying put at least until spring.)

Anyway, I am feeling confident that I’ve found a solid support network in all of you. Is this Iowa Nice? 

Enjoying today’s heat wave,

Matthew is a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa