I’ve definitely decided that the Winter season leaves me less than enamored with the Mitten State, a/k/a Michigan. Last month, our governor declared residents of this state are officially to go by the moniker of “Michiganders” and not “Michiganians” – people have been using those names interchangeably for years, just like saying “Michigan” or “The Mitten State”.
Some of my newer subscribers to this blog are not from around here, so I want to tell you that Michigan got the nickname of the “Mitten State” by virtue of its unique shape that looks like a mitten. People often joke, that if they move or travel out of state and meet fellow Michiganders, or even new friends, when asked where they hail from, they don’t say the Michigan city, but instead point to a place on their hand. This is because Michigan’s upper and lower peninsula look like a pair of hands, the UP being a horizontal hand, and the lower peninsula which resembles an upright mitten. Those references to our state sure make for interesting conversation sometimes.
This is where Detroit fits into the scheme of things:
Now, mittens are not a topic I’d usually dwell on, but, this week, my friend and fellow walker, Ann Marie and I, have been discussing how the snow and brutal cold have hampered our walking efforts recently. While we were game to walk in the cold weather and similarly were enjoying our daily walks, bam … the snow and ice showed up and nothing is the same now. We were also similarly bemoaning our cold fingers.
Since I’ve got the footwear squared away for the balance of the Winter season, now I had to tackle a new issue that has cropped up: what to wear on my hands.
I noticed Tuesday morning while shoveling the first batch of snow, in wind chills close to zero, my fingers felt like they were frozen solid. I hunted down my glove liners that I wore back in the days when I took the bus, and slipped them inside my heavyweight gloves. But, I soon discovered, while getting a great cardio workout shoveling all the snow following Wednesday’s whopper snowstorm, those glove liners didn’t do a bit of good. As a result, I kept dashing into the garage to warm up my hands.
Later that day, all warm and snug inside the house, I Googled for “gloves guaranteed to keep your hands warm” and came upon some high-end ski gloves which cost $179.00. Hmm – there must be a cheaper way to keep your digits from getting distressed. Heck, I traveled on the bus to Detroit daily, for over three decades, and in Winter the bus often was often late, or didn’t show up. I remember my fingers were cold sometimes, but never numb. I wonder if I got frostbite sometime, or, is this another part of the aging process? Perhaps I am just getting wimpy?
A second Googling attempt for the words “cold hands” brought dozens of references to the expression “cold hands, warm heart” and, while it may be a great sentiment for a Hallmark card, it didn’t tell me how to keep my frozen fingers from feeling like ten icicles.
So, I dug a little further, and bingo … I discovered the best solution for cold fingers was to wear mittens.
I have never been a fan of mittens, finding them cumbersome for driving, or shoveling, and, I avoided mittens while riding the bus downtown as they didn’t allow you to grip the metal grab bar securely, especially for those bus drivers who favored a jack rabbit start when new passengers got on the bus. Whoa Nellie!!
Admittedly, mittens would not be too handy for feeding the often-impatient squirrels at Council Point Park. And, if you are trying to take a picture while wearing mittens … well, forget about that!
I was persistent in finding a solution, and I next landed on a website where the article suggested that hands and fingers encased in mittens will stay warm much longer and avoid the risk of frostbite. Who knew? The article stated that the reason mittens are warmer for your hands is that when wearing gloves, your fingers must fend for themselves and those individual fingers won’t fare well, so using mittens will help extend your body heat to your fingers. The author suggested if you don’t have mittens handy, the alternative is to slip your fingers out of the gloves and ball your hands up inside those gloves to create warmth. Pfft was what I said to that last suggestion.
But … I was game for such an experiment, and Friday morning I did just that. I left on the gloves with their liners, but slid my fingers out and kept each hand into a tight fist … then I walked, and walked … eight times around the perimeter of the Memorial Park parking lot and the round trip there and back. By the time I got home, my hands were as toasty as when I donned my gloves before I stepped outside.
So this begs the question … “is that why we all wore mittens as kids … so we could play outside longer and thus stay out of our parents’ hair for a while?”
This morning, I went into the cedar closet, way in the back, and retrieved the polar fleece hat and mitts that I’ve had stored there for years. It was an impetuous purchase at Hudson’s … a cherry-red cloche hat and oversized mitts, which I thought would look jazz up a boring navy coat, but, when I still worked on site, I preferred my long hair to look less “smooshed” when I arrived at work, so I always wore a roomy, knitted cap instead. This hat and mitten set sank to the back of the high shelf in the cedar closet all these years.
I slipped those big mittens on and suddenly I felt like I was five years old again and all I needed was a scarf to be wrapped over my mouth and to pull on my brown, over-the-shoe boots, to complete the ensemble.
I went outside to try this second experiment. Wow! It felt almost balmy after this wintry week of weather. I shoveled, then walked around my neighborhood, plus three times around the entire Memorial Park from Fort Street to Electric Avenue . Because a light layer of snow had fallen and most people had not shoveled their walks, I stayed on the sidewalks and had zero slip-or-sliding issues. I was outside for over two hours, and my fingers were still toasty warm plus I packed 4 ½ miles onto my total miles to date. I now have just 4 ½ more miles to go. I’m thrilled to be at this point … you are too, I’m sure, as you won’t have to hear about it much longer. 🙂
So, you learn something new every day. Who knew all these decades later, I’d be so smitten with mittens?
[Image of mittens from Jill111 on Pixabay; and Michigan image from Pinterest]