Every so often, I'm struck anew by my strangeness in a strange land. I'm a transplant, and I'm afraid it still shows.
The other day, when it was really cold, I was reminded by the doubled doorway to my office building, and how much I appreciate it. Where I grew up, buildings large and small had pretty much single doorways. But here in the midwest, you enter one doorway, and about ten feet in, you enter a second doorway. When winter hits, you appreciate the second doorway a whole lot.
I finished teaching my evening class last week, and left the office about 9:15 to head to the grocery store for a quick stop. I considered buying a bottle of bourbon to have a nice hot toddy. But, of course, you aren't allowed to buy alcoholic beverages at a store after 9pm or something. You can go to a bar and have a couple drinks, get in your car, and drive on home. But you can't buy a bottle at the store, drive home, and make yourself a drink. I still deep down don't understand this rule (or when it kicks), and I never remember it until I see the ceremonial plastic warning chain in front of the liquor aisles at the store.
Grocery stores in general are very different. Where I'm from, no one gives you a strange look when you buy a couple artichokes. Here, I have to identify them for the check out person, and then I have to explain that they're good, and that yes, I do eat them, and that they're not actually hard to cook at all. Aisles are wider here. So are parking spaces. But local "ethnic" food here leaves a lot to be desired.
When you go to the mall in fall, you can tell the season has changed because the display involves deer stands and not canoes. Every year, I have students tell me in advance that they'll be out of class for the first days or week of deer season. This is normal here. One is advised to wear blaze orange when taking a bike ride or walk on the trail out of town these days.
Where I lived before, people in the movie Fargo made me laugh when they had conversations about snow. Now I've had those very conversations, standing in my driveway, shovel in hand. I don't quite sound like the people in the movie. Yet. But you know the weird hat Frances McDormand's character wears in the movie? I have a hat like that, except without the badge in front. Laugh if you will, but it's nice and warm. People all over town know me by my hat, which is saying something with the winters we have here.
I expect to have some free time this weekend, and I'm planning to put in bulbs. I don't remember people planting bulbs where I grew up, I think because they need more cold to go dormant or something. We get enough cold here and more. I really like bulbs. They give me hope.
I searched out my office bandaid supply this afternoon. I spend from late October through early May every year wrapping one or another finger in a bandaid with a little Neosporin cream because I get these stupid little cracks in the skin that hurt! They get irritated constantly by writing, typing, any old day-to-day activity. This week it's my left thumb. Last week was my right thumb. Tomorrow, the world!